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Accountability: His Parents Called 911 Because He Was Suffering a Mental Crisis, Moments Later He Was Dead. A Year Later Two Indianapolis Cops Are Indicted In His Death.

Two police officers have been indicted for the death of Herman Whitfield III in Indianapolis, Indiana. The indictment was handed down more than one year after Whitfield’s death.

A grand jury indicted patrol officers Steven Sanchez and Adam Ahmad on April 13, according to Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. Sanchez and Adam were both charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, and several battery counts.

Herman Whitfield III
Herman Whitfield III died while in police custody during a mental health crisis in Indianapolis, Indianna. (Photo: WTHR News / YouTube)

Whitfield died on April 25, 2022 while in police custody after his parents called 911 while their son was suffering from a mental health crisis. The Indianapolis Star reported that the 39-year-old pianist was hit multiple times with a stun gun and handcuffed while nude and facedown on the ground by five Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers and a recruit trainee.  

Sanchez and Ahmad claimed that they tried to de-escalate for 10 minutes before Whitfield allegedly moved quickly toward one of the officers and they repeatedly used a Taser on him.

“The officer activated the Taser twice and the man continued to resist.”

Whitfield was handcuffed facedown, after which he became unresponsive. Medics performed CPR on Whitfield upon their arrival three minutes after he stopped moving but could not revive him. No officers are seen checking on Whitfield while waiting for the paramedics, and he was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

Video shows Whitfield trying to get away from the officers repeatedly. He also said, “Cannot breathe. I can’t breathe,” multiple times after he was tased and being handcuffed.

An autopsy found that Whitfield died from heart failure due to law enforcement restraint and ruled the death a homicide. It also listed obesity and hypertensive cardiovascular disease as contributing factors.

His family filed a lawsuit against the city of Indianapolis and the responding officers. The lawsuit states that the officers “crushed the breath out of an unarmed, non-violent” man and ignored Whitfield’s cries of “I can’t breathe.”

The officer’s attorneys, John F. Kautzman and Edward Merchant, said in a statement that the charges are not proof of guilt.

“The merit of these allegations will ultimately be determined through due process in a court of law and we ask the public to allow that process to play out,” read the statement. “The officers look forward to a full and fair opportunity to defend themselves in court and establish that they did not act illegally or with any type of criminal intent.”

Whitfield’s mother, Gladys Whitfield, said the officers have not been transparent and continue to be deceptive about her son’s death.

“It’s been our opinion that the defendants still have not been transparent,” she said “Even though they promised transparency, all they have delivered is obliqueness and darkness and deception.”

Whitfield’s father, Herman Whitfield Jr. said that he was grateful that the grand jury “was able to come through with the indictment of the officers.”

Indianapolis Police Chief Randal Taylor released a statement that called Whitfield’s death “a tragedy for all involved and our thoughts continue to be with those impacted by his loss.”

Chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus and state Rep. Earl Harris Jr. (D-East Chicago) said his thoughts are with Whitfield’s family as the officers face the consequences of their actions.

“The indictment of two of the six officers involved in Mr. Whitfield’s death signals a changing tide in policing and community,” he said. “Too often in the past, police officers who took it upon themselves to act as judge, jury and executioner have never faced justice. If we want to maintain the integrity of policing and the integrity of the vast majority of officers who joined the force to protect and serve their communities, we must ensure that those who break that pledge face the consequences.”

The two officers were arranged on April 14. Their bond was set at $15,000, and their next court date is scheduled for July 5.

What people are saying

3 thoughts on “Accountability: His Parents Called 911 Because He Was Suffering a Mental Crisis, Moments Later He Was Dead. A Year Later Two Indianapolis Cops Are Indicted In His Death.

  1. IMPD is trash. If they aren’t outright murdering black people, they are acting as low-level flunkies for the DHS/FBI and illegally gang stalking and harassing people they know have committed no crimes. They are nothing but glorified security guards.
    And it seems police departments across the country seem to prefer to hire psychological cripples and reprobates as their foot soldiers instead of officers who would actually honor their oath to uphold the law. This case and others show that many (if not most bc the others keep silent) of these people are nothing more than just another street gang.
    Make no mistake, whether these cretins are black, white or otherwise, they act as & perceive themselves as an occupying force in the black community and all of US as the enemy. We are living in Nazi Germany 5.0 in America today.

  2. Oh yeah, and clearly having a “black” police chief doesn’t change a damn thing. Either they are corrupted, corruptible or simply corrupt or they are merely a figurehead with no real power or control.

  3. Peggy Laster says:

    It clearly states that a police officer are to protect and serve but who it is they protecting they self they evil spirit because you don’t have to kill people to stop them all you got to do just shoot them in the leg or whatever to stop them when they acting out like that you don’t have to murder I don’t trust polices I don’t care for them no more because they don’t have no respect for their self police’s act like they are above the law polices if you break the law you need to be locked up to and throw away the key police is no better than gangsters

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