Multicultural News

Herman Whitfield’s parents call for action after son’s death in IMPD custody

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The family is still looking for answers after Herman Whitfield died in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department custody in April.

Indianapolis police released some of the video on YouTube a month after Whitfield’s death, but his family wanted all of the video released, and a court ordered the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to hand over the video.

Whitfield’s parents say the new unedited body camera footage shows the moments before his death and gives a look inside the nightmare they’ve been living for eight months.

Now that the footage has been released, the first demand had been met, but next supporters want all of the officer involved to be fire. They say not only did the officers lose sight of their job they lost sight of Whitfield’s humanity.

The weather illustrates the gloom, the Whitfield’s have felt since their son died after police responded to the home for a mental health crisis.

“Replays every day. In my sleep when I get up in the morning. All through the day, and when I lay down at night,” said Whitfield’s mother, Gladys Whitfield.

They still don’t have the answers they need, and the officers involved are still on the force. So, the shadow its cast hasn’t lifted.

“From day one my mind has been racing constantly with these images of my son suffering. They acted maliciously, sadistically and brutally,” said his father, Herman Whitfield II.

His parents have been his voice, along with community member and others at a Justice for Herman Whitfield rally. Standing in solidarity demanding action and asking why.

“It’s beautiful there some people do see us as human beings. Even though they don’t know us. They still recognize our common humanity, and that life is sacred,” Mrs. Whitfield said.

His parents say the unedited body camera footage, shows their son trying to get away from the police rather than come at them. The similarities to George Floyd’s death are daunting. A Black man handcuffed, on his face, repeatedly saying: I can’t breath.

“They followed my son throughout the house, no matter where he went to avoid them. They cornered him as though he was some kind of caged animal. And electrocuted him, and just suffocated him,” Mr. Whitfield said.

The body camera footage shows Mr. Whitfield answering the door saying an ambulance should have responded. Not just the police. So, the shock of how a mental health call ended with their son dead, is a lot to bear.

“We’re going to have to taser him. What do you think? Do you think we should taser your son?” Mrs. Whitfield asked as a what-if scenario. “What do you think we would’ve said we would’ve said leave. But again, not recognizing our humanity.”

Video (discretion advised)

A YouTube video was released Jan. 14 by the law firm representing the family of Herman Whitfield III. The video contains graphic and disturbing images. Discretion is advised. 

More News 8 coverage

Mental health resources