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Unedited police body cam released from night Herman Whitfield III died. Here's everything we know.

Posted at 11:04 PM, Jan 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-17 11:54:39-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Lawyers for the family of Herman Whitfield III have released the police full body cam videos from the night he died, six months after IMPD released a short compilation of that night's events.

In a press release issued by the attorneys on Saturday, they claim the unedited videos show a different perspective from that night and that 39-year-old was “vulnerable, unarmed, naked, undergoing a mental health crisis, and never threatened the officers either verbally or physically.“

Whitfield died on April 25, 2022, after police responded to his parents' home for a report of a man suffering from a mental health crisis.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department had previously released portions of the body camera footage back in June. Their compilation showed part of what happened on the day Herman Whitfield III died in police custody. The attorney representing IMPD argued then, that releasing the full unedited body camera footage was “premature” and unfair to the officers involved.

The Whitfield family attorney argued at the time that if parts of the video were being released, all of it should be. They called for transparency from IMPD on multiple occasions, calling the IMPD video a "selective and biased account of the events."

What We Know

Gladys Whitfield called 911 at about 3:20 a.m. on April 25 asking for help with their son who was suffering a mental health crisis at their home in the 3700 block of Marrison Place, according to a critical incident video released by IMPD.

"I need someone to come. My son is having some sort of episode," Gladys could be heard telling the 911 dispatcher during a recording of the call from that night.

Officers arrived minutes later.

"My son is having a psychosis," Herman Whitfield Jr. is heard on police body camera video telling the officers. "You guys should have called an ambulance."

What happened inside was then captured on a series of 11 different police body cameras.

Six officers were placed on administrative leave following the incident.

The report released from the Marion County Coroner's Office classified Whitfield's death as a homicide. The official cause of death was listed as "cardiopulmonary arrest in the setting of law enforcement subdual, prone restraint, and conducted electrical weapon use." The report listed "morbid obesity; hypertensive cardiovascular disease" as contributing factors.

The full unedited videos from the body cameras of the 11 different IMPD officers were released by the Whitfield family attorneys on Saturday. They include nearly 11 hours of recorded video. Due to the volume of videos and their sensitive nature WRTV is not posting them publicly at this time.

IMPD's Assessment & Edited Body Cam Video

According to IMPD Whitfield was moving around the home naked, sweating and bleeding from the mouth.

After more than 10 minutes of negotiating and using de-escalation tactics, IMPD said Whitfield "moved quickly towards an officer."

"The officer deployed his electronic control device, more commonly known as a Taser," IMPD said in the April 25 news release. "The officer activated the Taser twice. The man continued to resist after the deployment of the Taser."

Whitfield was a big man, standing 6-feet, 2-inches tall and weighing 280 pounds, IMPD's news release said.

The officer deployed two jolts from the Taser and Whitfield continued to resist, police said.

Data from the Taser was downloaded, according to IMPD, and will be used as part of the investigation. That information has not been made public.

"Due to the man’s size, officers placed him in two pair of linked handcuffs, which typically provides more comfort to larger individuals," IMPD said.

When medics entered after the scene was secured, Whitfield was unresponsive. The handcuffs were removed and medics performed CPR as they took Whitfield to the hospital, where he later died.

On June 28, IMPD released a 14-minute Critical Incident Video of the incident at Whitfield's home that included recorded 911 calls and video from cameras worn by officers. The video, edited by a third-party vendor, was posted on You Tube.

"The whole purpose of of sharing these videos is for transparency," IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said. "We want to make sure that the community is aware of what we're doing — that we're not hiding anything."

You can watch the video that was released by IMPD on June 28 below. The video below may contain situations that are violent, disturbing and hard to watch. Viewer discretion is advised.

On Sunday, Jan. 15, IMPD also issued a statement in response to the full bodycam videos released by the Whitfield family's attorney saying "Out of respect for the judicial process, we do not comment on pending litigation."

You can read their statement below.

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.

Whitfield Family Attorney's assessment & Edited Body Cam Video

On Saturday, January 14, attorneys for the Whitfield family released their own compilation of six of those body cam videos along with the full videos.

The family's statement claims that the video released by IMPD back in June was "selective and biased" and that the full videos show a different version of the events that night.

"This video counters IMPD’s CIV, which inaccurately stated that Herman was dangerous, was throwing things, and rushed an officer," their press release read. "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."

You can watch the full compilation released by the Whitfield family attorneys on Jan. 14 below. The video below may contain situations that are violent, disturbing and hard to watch. Viewer discretion is advised.

The full release issued Saturday evening by the Whitfield family attorneys can also be read below.

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