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Fishers police say officers followed proper policy during stop after man claims he was racially profiled

Fishers Police Department Cruiser
Posted at 11:06 PM, May 18, 2023

FISHERS — The Chief of the Fishers Police Department says his officers acted "in accordance with department policy and procedure" during a traffic stop that led to a family claiming they were racially profiled.

The family filed a tort claim notice against the Fishers Police Department saying they were racially "biased based profiling" during the traffic stop on April 21.

The tort claim states that new parents Malcom Bunnell Caitlin White were "pulled over, held at gunpoint, arrested and detained based on the color of their skin." The father, told his side of the story in a Facebook post that went viral. They also claim their infant daughter was also left alone in the backseat unattended for an extended period of time.

Chief Chief Ed Gebhart says the department initiated an internal review of the officers involved in the response to that disturbance at the Wal-Mart on 96th Street after being made aware of the social media post.

"The Fishers Police Department received a formal complaint... and conducted a formal complaint investigation of the facts, circumstances, and information surrounding the incident in question," Gebhart's statement read. "The internal review of all information (officer body worn cameras, in-car cameras, retail videos from the incident, dispatch radio traffic and CAD notes, the 911 call, case report and narratives) confirmed officers responded in accordance with department policy and procedure."

The incident, according to court documents, began with a report of a physical altercation. When officers arrived at the Wal-Mart a man at the scene told them that the other person had a gun and had left the scene in a white Cadillac. Police initiated a traffic stop, which was considered "high-risk" because they were told a weapon was involved. They found no weapon in the vehicle.

Police later determined that the two men had been involved in an altercation over a road rage incident. The first man was later identified and taken into custody for false reporting and resisting arrest.

Gebhart claims the Fishers Police Department has reached out to the couple who filed the tort claim to "meet and discuss the incident and review all associated videos," but they have not yet responded to the request.

In the tort claim made by the family's lawyers, they state that the man had actually been harassing the family at the store.

"The officer had no facts that would rise to the level of suspicion necessary to warrant a Terry Stop, let alone a violent arrest with threat of deadly force," the claim states. "The officer’s narrative omits one major fact that was coloring his view of the situation, the description of the other driver—black male... This is a clear case of biased based profiling."

According to the claim, the family intends to file a civil lawsuit against Fishers Police Department, seeking justice and accountability for the officer's actions.

"The Fishers Police Department remains committed in our continued efforts to be transparent with our actions, decision-making, and communication," Gebhart said. "The Fishers Police Department and the City of Fishers will share all facts and evidence in the proper venue as a Tort Claim notice has been received, and a criminal case is pending with the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office."