Man shot in the back by IMPD officer in 2016 settles lawsuit for millions

Gerald Cole

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– An unarmed man who was shot in the back by an Indianapolis police officer has received one of the largest settlements in the city’s history.

The officer who shot him has been the subject of more than a half-dozen other citizen complaints and two other pending federal lawsuits. Nonetheless, he still works for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

Indianapolis last month agreed to pay $2.15 million to Gerald Cole to settle a lawsuit stemming from an October 2016 incident. Officer James Perry shot Cole twice during an altercation with Cole and his brother. The bullets left Cole partially paralyzed and facing a lifetime of medical bills that are expected to total millions of dollars.

“He doesn’t really have the potential to regain the ability to walk, or live on his own or do many things he could before,” said Richard Waples, Cole’s attorney. “His life is forever changed.”

The massive payout to Cole suggests city officials were cognizant that his account of what led to the shooting — which differed from the officer’s story — could elicit a much higher award if the case went to a jury.

IMPD Chief Bryan Roach issued this statement:

Deciding to resolve a lawsuit is always difficult, and that is certainly true in a case where a firearms review board concluded that Officer Perry’s use of force was justified. But we also have a responsibility to be good stewards of public funds, and the undeniable reality of taking a case to trial is that it presents risks for both sides — particularly when a case involves substantial past and future medical expenses.

While we do not make these decisions lightly, we believe this agreement allows us to limit the risk to taxpayers while also guaranteeing that Mr. Cole will have meaningful help with his medical expenses.

Cole’s attorney Richard Waples issued this statement:

Gerald Cole and his family are satisfied with the settlement of his federal lawsuit against Officer Perry. We think that the City should take additional steps to make sure Officer Perry is never again in a position to abuse his authority as a police officer.

Read more here from our newsgathering partners at the IndyStar.

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