INDIANAPOLIS — The family of Herman Whitfield III has released more bodycam footage of their son’s death while in police custody.
Whitfield died after officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department were called to his parents’ home on April 25, 2022. The 39-year-old man was in the midst of a mental health crisis, his parents said, and called 911 to request an ambulance. His father told police his son was “having a psychosis.”
Police entered the home, where they found Whitfield standing naked in a hallway and sweating. He moved around the home and while police made efforts to communicate with him, the efforts were largely unsuccessful.
Police used a stun gun on Whitfield after trying to engage him in conversation. While he was on the floor, the stun gun was deployed a second time.
IMPD officers then converged on Whitfield, handcuffing him as he lay on his stomach. He was heard saying “I can’t breathe” in body camera footage. He later died at the hospital.
The Marion County Coroner’s Office later ruled Whitfield’s death a homicide, with an autopsy report stating he died from “cardiopulmonary arrest in the setting of law enforcement subdual, prone restraint and conducted electrical weapon use.”
The report also listed “morbid obesity” and “hypertensive cardiovascular disease” (a condition related to high blood pressure) as contributing conditions.
“As his death occurred during a physical prone restraint, and this restraint played a role in his death, the manner of death is listed as homicide,” the coroner’s report concluded.
In June 2022, IMPD released body camera footage from the incident that was not in its raw form and had been edited.
Earlier that same month, Whitfield’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Indianapolis and six officers who responded to the Whitfield home.
The City of Indianapolis and IMPD were ordered on Nov. 21, 2022, to release the full, unedited footage from the incident. However, attorneys for the city filed a motion to block the footage’s release a week later.
Now, Whitfield’s family says they have obtained the full, unedited footage of the incident. A compilation video of the body cams, edited and released by the Whitfield family, can be viewed at the link below.
WARNING: This video contains nudity and profanity. It can be viewed here.
This video counters IMPD’s CIV, which inaccurately stated that Herman was dangerous, was throwing things, and rushed an officer. 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.
The CIV’s false narrative also failed to include what can be heard on the body cam videos, that Herman repeatedly cried out that he couldn’t breathe. The CIV also failed to acknowledge that IMPD’s General Orders require officers to immediately reposition a restrained individual out of a prone position to facilitate breathing and to prevent positional asphyxiation. The officers failed to do this.Attorneys for the family of Herman Whitfield III
The family of Whitfield, through their attorneys, has also released a Dropbox link containing full videos from each responding officer’s bodycams, available here.
Along with the footage release, the Whitfield family said that a “Justice for Herman” rally will be held at noon on Jan. 16 at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis.
IMPD released the following statement:
“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.”Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
Matt Adams and Courtney Crown contributed to this report.