IMPD working to curb recent spike in youth violence

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Fed up with unruly youth and teen behavior that has resulted in fights, beatings, confrontations with police, shootings and murder, IMPD will soon knock on doors of juveniles arrested for downtown misbehavior.

Eight teens, the youngest a 13-year-old girl, were arrested in downtown Indianapolis last weekend as fights among crowds of 40-50 teens broke out with some battling police officers.

That’s why 17-year-old Markeshia Laswell’s Saturday night ended early Sunday morning at the Marion County Juvenile Facility.

“’Why did you get arrested?’” Michael Laswell asked his niece when he arrived to bring her home. “She would not say anything. Nothing whatsoever.”

An IMPD report from that night portrayed Laswell as a combatant in a fight between three officers and a 22-year-old man in the shadow of Circle Centre.

“I can’t understand why she would be interfering with the police when they were trying to arrest someone,” said Laswell when informed by FOX59 of the police report narrative his niece wouldn’t share. “Interfering with the police, not doing what the police tells her to do, it’s a dead end street. It’s a way to go to jail, it's all there is to it.”

Deputy Mayor Rev. David Hampton said that while the chronic disruptive behavior downtown should not be indicative of Indianapolis teens, admittedly there needs to be more entertainment and social alternative for youth on weekends.

Hampton said this Saturday clergy will be on the street to observe and act as intermediaries if necessary between the young people and each other and the police.

“Throughout the week lets monitor social media so that we can intercept any possible discussion about fights and possibly defuse so that they can have an enjoyable weekend this Saturday,” said Hampton, who will attend an announcement of a summer jobs program by Mayor Joe Hogsett Wednesday.

Downtown IMPD Commander Phil Burton said he will adjust the overlapping schedules of officers on duty to bring more resources to the city’s core this Saturday night.

“We’ve got officers inside the mall working off duty and they’re working on overtime so from there to our normal operations that we have officers that are working each shift middle shift and late shift.”

Laswell said his niece turns 18 in less than two months and he fears the next time she tangles with police, she won’t be returning to the juvenile center.

“This behavior that she’s exhibiting and doing out here, it's just gonna get her locked up in jail,” he said. “It's no place for anyone. It's full of criminals.”

Twice in the last month gunfire has echoed downtown.

On Jan. 21, a teenager was wounded on the grounds of the Indiana statehouse.

A week later, 33-year-old Wilbur Morton was murdered as a street battle raged in the middle of Market Street outside the Bu Da Lounge.

Dontae Davis, 29, was arrested for that killing Monday night.