INDIANAPOLIS — About three dozen people showed up in the rain and cold Monday afternoon to rally in support of the parents of Herman Whitfield III.
He is the man who died while in police custody back in April 2022. While having a mental health crisis, Whitfield was tased by IMPD officers who then cuffed him, and sat on top of him until he died. The coroner said Whitfield died of cardiac arrest from being tased and then held in a prone position by the officers.
The coroner’s report also used “homicide” to describe his death.
“They acted maliciously, sadistically, and brutally in his murder,” said Whitfield’s father, Herman Whitfield II. “They followed my son throughout the house no matter where he went to avoid them.”
The family released the full, unedited body camera video of the night the incident happened at their home. The Whitfields had called 911 for an ambulance to take their son to the hospital because he was having an emotional crisis. Police officers showed up to help but when Whitfield would not cooperate things escalated.
Whitfield was tased in the chest by one of the officers after fleeing into the kitchen and appearing to grab something. He was shouting for water.
“(The video) shows Herman vulnerable, naked, unarmed, trying to avoid the officers at every chance,” said the Whitfield family’s attorney Richard Waples. “He doesn’t fight the officers at all. Now, he’s shocked and he’s flailing around, but they get his arms cuffed up in fairly short order. He’s saying he can’t breathe and they’re on top of him still.”
There is some discrepancy between first responders and the family’s attorneys on when life-saving measures were begun on Whitfield once they realized he was unresponsive. First responders said after three minutes they started CPR. The Whitfield attorneys say five minutes passed.
Whitfield was pronounced dead at the hospital 45 minutes after being tased.
Now the family is suing IMPD in a federal wrongful death lawsuit.
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