Indiana Excessive Force Suit can be included
Prosecutors in excessive violence cases want officials to be held accountable.
A grand jury from Marion County, Indiana, indicted two officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) with criminal offenses about six months ago after the shooting of two women, Ivoré Westfield and Rachel Harding, who were “brutally” arrested after curfew went viral. The curfew was set by Mayor Joe Hogsett after two consecutive nights of protest and violence.
“I’ve never seen the police act like this before,” said 39-year-old Rachel Harding, a white woman who was pushed to the ground by officers and later arrested, of the events, adding, “Things got boarded up and things destroyed and I felt like this was a memorable time in our history and I wanted to be a part of it visually. I wanted to see it. “
Harding took her camera downtown just before curfew began and met with Ivoré Westfield, a then-stranger who had decided to do the same. Just minutes after the curfew went into effect, officials arrested the two women.
Photo by AJ Colores on Unsplash
“Without provocation, without notice, without warning – put it any way you want – these cops attacked and there is no other word for it, they attacked these women and they attacked them with such malice and violence that it did difficult to observe. Said Terrance Kinnard, the women’s lawyer.
Now it looks like the excessive violence lawsuit against Indiana Harding-Westfield may not even be brought to trial.
“I would say the majority of [these cases] either settled or dismissed, ”said Anne Mullin O’Connor, Indianapolis City Attorney with the Office of Corporation Counsel. “We are – I’m not saying we’re being pressured to settle, but everyone is being asked by the courts to consider an early arbitration and settlement of the dispute. We don’t always take care of things because we think we’ve done something wrong. It’s just a matter of finances. We are administrators of the tax money and we take the analysis that we do early on very seriously. “
However, when cases in Indiana and elsewhere are resolved, there appears to be little referral, and so the officers’ actions simply continue.
“99.9% of the time, the officer returns or the officer – I don’t mean to be derogatory – returns to his job,” said Kinnard. “There is an agreement on a certain amount or an award by a court for a certain amount. The officer returns to his work. What would the deterrent be? “
If the number of cases that made it to court increased and fewer were settled, it could mean less police protection in general, according to IMPD chief Randal Taylor. He said, “Our officials are charged with protecting the citizens of this city. You will be placed in very difficult situations from time to time – sometimes even on a regular basis, which would likely affect our ability to hire and retain civil servants. “
Yet Harding and Westfield want the law enforcement agencies involved in their case to be held accountable. When asked if an agreement would mean justice, Harding said, “It’s not about a number of money. It’s not about shame like “I’m here” … I show up just because I need something to change. And I think that’s important. “