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Federal judge hears from Whitfield family, IMPD attorneys; undecided on release of unedited body cam video

Posted at 6:46 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 18:46:38-05

INDIANAPOLIS — On Monday, a federal judge heard the arguments from both IMPD and the lawyers of Herman Whitfield III's family to release the full, unedited body camera footage of the incident leading up to his death.

In June, IMPD released some of the body camera footage from the April 25 incident.

The attorney representing IMPD argued releasing the full unedited body camera footage is premature. He says it's unfair to the officers.

The Whitfield family attorney argued since part of the video was released, all of it should be.

"That cat is already out of the bag if they released their own version of their own videos they can't keep the unedited of the videos away from the public," Richard Waples, the attorney representing the Whitfield family said.

The edited body camera footage, released on June 28 by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department sparked controversy.

It shows part of what happened on the day Herman Whitfield III died in police custody.

The Marion County Coroner's Office rules his death as a homicide.

"It's been terrible. I haven't been able to sleep too much. It's just had a terrible effect on me and my wife and my family in general. A horror story, it really is," Herman Whitfield Jr. said.

His parents are struggling to find comfort.

His mother Gladys called 911 for help claiming Whitfield III was suffering from a mental health crisis.

At some point during the officers' encounter, metro police claim Whitfield III charged at an officer before being tased.

Since his death, the family has been fighting for the release of the unedited video.

"How often does something like this happen in terms of not releasing the full body camera footage," WRTV's Rachael Wilkerson asked Waples.

"I think it's rare. It's rare. Maybe they have something to hide. I don't know," Waples said.

No officers have been criminally charged.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office is still investigating the case.

That's why attorney Anthony Overholt, representing the city and IMPD, argues the full video should not be released to the public until the investigation is complete.

He also argues the release, could taint a grand jury if one is selected.

He declined an interview.

"They are asking for more time but my son only had nine and a half minutes, so I think they've had a lot more time than my son Herman Whitfield III had. According to the constitution, all of his rights and our rights were kicked to the curb," Whitfield Jr. said.

The family says eight months is long enough. They want transparency and are hoping the civil rights lawsuit will help bring them closure.

"If the unedited video is showing what occurred, excessive use of force, violation of policy, then that's what it is," Whitfield Jr. said.

The federal judge overseeing the civil rights lawsuit says he is taking both sides into consideration and will issue a written order.

His decision is expected in a few days, according to the Whitfield family attorneys.