Make your home page

Lawyer: ‘Harrell made a bad decision, but it should not have cost him his life’

Bodycam video shows man shot in back by officer

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — 49-year-old Gary Harrell was shot in the back seconds after he took off running from police during a traffic stop on Aug. 3. He had just grabbed a loaded handgun from his car before running.

A lawyer representing Harrell’s family says that he made a bad decision, but it should not have cost him his life. 

Stephen Wagner, the lawyer representing Gary Harrell’s family, released a statement Wednesday saying Harrell had been involved in a serious motorcycle accident a few years ago and wasn’t able to move very quickly.  

The lawyer doesn’t dispute that Harrell grabbed a loaded gun from his car and attempted to run away from Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Douglas Correll.

“So, as seen in the video, he was stumbling away from Officer Correll as opposed to sprinting. Although Gary made a poor choice that morning, it should not have cost him his life. Gary never assaulted or even touched Officer Correll,” Wagner said in the statement.

Police video of the incident released Tuesday shows Officer Correll giving Harrell one warning, “Stop it, drop it.” Wagner says the officer didn’t give Harrell time to comply. 

IMPD policy

IMPD policy limits the use of deadly force to “prevent or defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer of to another person, or to apprehend a fleeing person for any felony that threatened or resulted in death or serious bodily injury the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or serious bodily injury to another unless immediately apprehended.” 

Guy Relford, an attorney based in Carmel, spoke with I-Team 8 to elaborate on the policy.

“(It depends on) what circumstances we are talking about. Is the person with that loaded handgun running towards someone and the officer has some reason to believe they are going to run toward them and hurt them? Has the person given some indication they are going to turn around and endanger the officer with that gun rather than just trying to flee? But very importantly, they have to be preventing that serious bodily injury to themselves or someone else, and typically it has to be someone identifiable,” Relford said.

IMPD responded to I-Team 8’s request for comment,

“Today the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department released the critical incident video involving the shooting death of Gary Harrell,” said Chief Taylor. 

“This release comes as a part of my commitment to transparency, and with the recognition of the tragic loss of Mr. Harrell and the lives impacted by this incident, including officers.  

It is crucial to have a thorough and complete investigation of what occurred during this incident before we come to any conclusions. At this point, this investigation is incomplete. I am asking for the public’s patience and trust as we investigate this thoroughly. My prayers remain with all involved,” said Chief.

Correll faced allegations of excessive force against a black man in 2016.

In court records obtained by I-Team 8, Correll allegedly punched a man in the face and then used his knee to hit the man in the stomach. Kneeing the man in the stomach allegedly crushed his spleen and part of his pancreas.

IMPD cleared Correll of any wrongdoing, but according to Richard Waples, the attorney representing the man, the city paid $380,000 to settle the complaint.