INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – One of the two city police officers involved in the shooting death of an unarmed man in June faces two civil lawsuits in federal court.
Carlton Howard and another Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer, Daniel Slightom, along with the city were sued for damages after Deonta Ellis was shot and injured during a traffic stop about 11 p.m. Oct. 26, 2015, at a Speedway gas station, 3540 W. 30th St. Ellis filed a lawsuit in October in Marion Superior Court against Howard, Slightom and the city, and that case was moved a few weeks later to U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.
In the early morning hours of June 29, Aaron Bailey, 45, led police on a chase northwest of downtown and crashed his car. When Bailey exited the vehicle, Howard and another IMPD officer, Michal Dinnsen, opened fire. Bailey died about a half hour later at a local hospital. Bailey’s family sued Howard, Dinnsen and the city in U.S. District Court on Sept. 29. Police shot at Bailey 11 times, the lawsuit says, and four bullets struck him in the back.
In the June incident, Howard and Dinnsen were cleared May 10 by a civilian police merit board although the police chief had called for their dismissal. Also, a special prosecutor, St. Joseph County’s Ken Cotter, announced Oct. 31 that no criminal charges would be filed against Howard and Dinnsen in Bailey’s shooting death.
Slightom was one of several officers who responded after Bailey was shot. At the merit board hearing, Slightom testified about his experiences in June. However, the 2015 incident involving Howard and Slightom was not mentioned at the merit board hearing.
In the lawsuit on the 2015 incident, Ellis said he was a passenger in a car on West 30th Street being driven by Lavon Washington. Either Howard or Slightom initiated a traffic stop and then ordered Washington and Ellis to show their hands. Ellis attempted to exit the car while showing his hands when one of the two officers shouted words to the effect of “he’s going for it,” and the other officer shot him in the back, the lawsuit said.
Ellis, who was 21 when shot in the back, indicated in the lawsuit that race factored into the officers’ decision to shoot him. The lawsuit also said the officers had no legally justifiable reason or probable cause to shoot Ellis.
Police at the time of the 2015 incident indicated Ellis was found with a gun and cocaine before he was taken to the hospital. Another gun was found in the car.
Online court records show Ellis pleaded guilty to two firearms violations and resisting law enforcement from incidents in 2015 and was found guilty of criminal gang activity from an incident in 2011.
John Kautzman FOP attorney who represented Officer Howard in Merit Board Hearing released the following statement on the lawsuit:
“Officer Howard was merely a witness in the other case. The Merit Board heard and ruled upon all the relevant evidence in the Bailey hearing. We do not plan to relitigate the case in the media. It’s time for this City to move forward.”
The case by Ellis has a conference call scheduled for June 15.