INDIANAPOLIS — The attorney for the City of Indianapolis and six IMPD officers involved in a man’s in-custody death has until November 28 to make the full, unedited police body camera videos available to the plaintiffs.
This is in regard to the wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the estate of Herman Whitfield III. Whitfield died in IMPD custody on April 25 after being tased and handcuffed while laying on his stomach.
On April 25, police were called to a home in the 3700 block of Marrison Place, where 39-year-old Herman Whitfield III was having a mental health episode.
His mother called 911 and asked for an ambulance to help her and her husband get mental health care for their son. Instead, the lawsuit said, police deployed a Taser and essentially crushed the breath from him.
Police said in April that Whitfield ran toward an officer while officers were in the Whitfiled home, causing the officer to deploy his Taser.
“He wasn’t physically aggressive with anyone, he wasn’t physically aggressive with his parents, he wasn’t physically aggressive with any of the officers,” said Richard Waples, one of the attorneys for the Whitfield family.
While Whitfield was lying on his stomach on the floor, officers cuffed him from behind. With several officers on top of him, Whitfield struggled to breathe. According to the lawsuit, Whitfield can be heard in body camera footage saying, “I can’t breathe.” He made the comment at least three times, with officers keeping their weight on his body while they waited for medical crews to arrive.
IMPD released edited body cam footage in June. Now, the attorneys representing the Estate of Herman Whitfield III and Whitfield’s family want a full, unedited version released to them and the public.
Attorney Anthony Overholt, who represents the six officers and the city, argued the video should not be released so it does not prejudice a potential grand jury. Overholt said in court the officers received grand jury subpoenas.
The officers have not been criminally charged. They are still on administrative leave.
“If it’s okay to put out this video that’s been altered and edited and muted and narrated and presenting evidence in a false narrative, and that’s not prejudicial, then why would the truth be prejudicial,” Gladys Whitfield, Herman’s mother, questioned.
Federal Judge Mark Dinsmore ruled IMPD and the City of Indianapolis have until November 28 to produce the videos. Or, Waples explained, the plaintiffs could file a motion to stay which would mean they would not be required to produce the videos until a judge rules on that motion.