INDIANAPOLIS — Six times this year, IMPD officers have drawn their guns and fired at men aiming weapons at them or attacking them or putting others in danger.
One man has died, one policewoman was wounded and two men are recovering in the hospital after being shot by officers during two incidents in less than 48 hours this holiday weekend.
Perhaps as soon as the end of the month, a newly constituted IMPD Use of Force Review Board with significant citizen participation could begin reviewing some of those cases, with a similar IMPD General Orders Board also due to come on line shortly.
“We had already been looking into changes with the Use of Force Board and the General Orders Board and getting civilians involved with that,” said IMPD Chief Randal Taylor. “The expectation is that they will review those cases, and they’ll either agree with our findings or won’t agree, and if they don’t agree, we’ll take steps to try to make the changes that are necessary. But the General Orders Board will also have the ability to pick up anything that they see needs to be looked at as far as our general orders go.”
While the General Orders Board will be empowered to review and write new policies governing IMPD operations, the Use of Force Board will be advisory in nature but with the ability to call witnesses to conduct its own inquiry into use of force incidents.
“That could [be] something as little as a handcuffing technique or something like that. It doesn’t have to be firearms,” said Taylor. “They don’t just necessarily have to take what our investigation shows. If they feel like there is something else that needs to be done, then I think they will be able to do that.”
Both boards were established last summer with community and law enforcement members named this spring.
“The general orders committee with citizen participation had a full weekend of training as did our Use of Force Review Board with civilian participation,” Mayor Joe Hogsett told FOX59 last week. “We are still ramping our Citizens Police Complaint Review Board.”
That board will have beefed up assets and authority to investigate and make findings regarding citizen complaints against police officers that do not rise to criminal allegations.
Community members of the other boards are wrapping up their training and ride-alongs with IMPD officers, and the Use of Force Board could begin hearing cases next week, contingent upon findings by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office that the shootings under review were not criminal in nature.
In addition to this year’s cases, IMPD is still in the final stages of reviewing three 2020 officer-involved shootings, two of which may be referred to the Use of Force Board as they occurred after the new board was enacted in August of last year.
Last week, IMPD released a presentation that includes body-worn camera video of a shootout between police officers and a man wanted for murder and weapons violations. The gunman was injured after police said he fired a number of shots at them in the 3300 block of Forest Manor Avenue in February.
Both Saturday afternoon’s shooting of a man who engaged in a gun battle with police officers in the 3000 block of East Riverside Drive and Monday morning’s shooting of a man officers said was attacking them with a knife during a domestic dispute at 21 South Colorado Avenue were captured on the officers’ body-worn cameras.
“I’ve put out a number of videos in reference to our police action shootings as a form of transparency,” said Taylor, “and we allow the community, select members of the community, to see that prior to us putting that out to everybody, and we get their opinion on what they see and what they like and what they don’t like.”
Such videos would be part of any investigation undertaken by either the Use of Force Board or the General Orders Board.
“I think Indianapolis residents will start to see the fruits of those labors very shortly when they start to hear cases,” said Taylor.