INDIANAPOLIS — The full, unedited body camera footage from six IMPD officers has been released showing the death of Herman Whitfield III.
Saturday night, the family of Herman Whitfield III released the footage of when he died while in police custody on April 25th, 2022.
IMPD released an edited down version of the body cam video a couple months later in June, but the Whitfield family lawyer says, that it was a selective and biased account of the events that night.
Indianapolis and the Whitfield family fought in courts over the footage. The attorney for the city of Indianapolis and the officers says since no officers are charged yet, the release of the video would create “prejudice” against the officers. IMPD believes the footage should have been under a protective order while the Whitfields were successful in getting a court ordered release.
The new footage shows the events of the night from the first officers walking up to the Whitfield residence to EMS taking Herman away to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
“This video counters IMPD’s [Critical Incident Video], which inaccurately stated that Herman was dangerous, was throwing things, and rushed an officer,” the Whitfield family’s lawyers said in a press release. “The body cam videos conclusively show that Herman was vulnerable, unarmed, naked, undergoing a mental health crisis, and never threatened the officers either verbally or physically. Rather than rushing towards an officer, the videos show that Herman was attempting to avoid them, even immediately before he was shot with the taser.”
In the video, Herman can be seen naked and visibly sweating. When police officers attempted to communicate with him, he would walk into another room to be out of sight.
Eventually, a taser is used against Herman twice and officers handcuffed him face down. Herman could be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.” Herman was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Marion County Coroner’s Office said that Herman’s death was a homicide.
The family made the video public on YouTube. Due to the content of the video, viewer discretion is advised. The video is available at this link.
IMPD made a statement on the release of the unedited footage…
IMPD turned over the necessary materials to all of the parties involved in this lawsuit, and that includes officer body-worn-camera footage. Out of respect for the judicial process, we do not comment on pending litigation.
Right now, a separate administrative investigation is being conducted by IMPD Internal Affairs. The officers involved in this incident remain on administrative duty.
At the conclusion of the criminal investigation and any criminal proceedings, the civilian-majority Use of Force Review Board will review the criminal and administrative investigations and make a recommendation to the Chief of Police on whether the officer’s actions were in compliance with department policies and training.
Based on a careful review of the facts and the Use of Force Board’s feedback, Chief Taylor will consider discipline up to a recommendation of termination to the IMPD Civilian Police Merit Board.
The Whitfield family’s statement in the press release for the new footage says…
Herman Whitfield, III, did not present a danger to the officers, and there was no need to taser him. Mr. Whitfield, who was in his family home, needed professional mental health care, not the use of excessive deadly force. Moreover, the officers violated their own training in keeping Mr. Whitfield handcuffed face down after he was restrained; after he told them he couldn’t breathe; and when he was not moving or breathing, which led to this death. As the Marion County Coroner has ruled, Herman’s death was a “Homicide,” caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest in the setting of law enforcement subdual, prone restraint, and conducted electrical weapon use.”
The Whitfield family is planning on a Justice for Herman Whitfield III Rally on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 16 at noon on Monument circle. They ask all who can attend to join them.