IBLC: We expect transparency in IMPD investigation
INDIANAPOLIS – Members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) join the Indianapolis community in mourning the death of Herman Whitfield III. Whitfield, 39, was reportedly suffering a mental health crisis Monday morning (April 25, 2022) when police were called at roughly 3:20 a.m. After being stunned with a Taser twice in the chest, officers noticed he no longer had a pulse.
Whitfield was declared dead shortly after arriving at a local hospital.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Critical Incident Response Team will conduct a criminal investigation and IMPD Internal Affairs will conduct an internal administrative investigation with consultation from the Marion County Prosecutor's Office. The officers directly involved have been placed on administrative leave.
“We expect nothing less than a thorough and transparent investigation by IMPD into the death of Mr. Whitfield,” State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis), chair of the IBLC, said.
“Too often, interactions with the police turn deadly for Black men, especially for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. If the investigation finds wrongdoing on the part of the officers, there must be accountability. We need to work as a legislature to ensure law enforcement officers are receiving implicit bias training and to expand mental health resources throughout our state.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 300 Americans diagnosed with a mental health disorder have been killed by police nationwide. African Americans are disproportionally represented in these cases, making up roughly 20% of those killed.
Since 2017, IMPD has used Specialized Mobile Crisis Assistant Teams to respond to possible mental health crises. However, officers specializing in this service were not available to assist in Whitfield's case, because the program only operates on weekdays between 8 a.m. through 6 p.m.
“We know that mental health crises don't just occur during normal business hours,” Shackleford continued. “To keep both our residents and officers' safe, law enforcement officers specializing in mental health ought to be available 24/7 just as other officers are to prevent another tragedy like this from happening again. Our thoughts are with Mr. Whitfield's family and loved ones.”