IMPD Chief Roach admits anti-violence program struggling

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - IMPD Chief Bryan Roach admitted he couldn’t get back to sleep after learning that a 13-year-old boy was murdered while trying to intervene in a neighborhood dispute last Thursday night.

“How’s your summer youth anti-violence campaign working?” the chief was asked after attending a prayer vigil for Harry Taliefer in the 2200 block of Barnor Drive on the city’s east side.

“Not well, right?” Roach asked and answered. “Its disappointing. Its not for the lack of effort. The men and women of the police department are out here working. We’re trying to be intelligent about what we’re doing. Its not about mass incarceration. We’re trying to be very specific about those people we’re trying to impact.

“The death of Man Man last week…he was trying to do things most adults should be doing and he was trying to de-escalate a situation and finds himself killed,” recalled Roach. “There was a run here the day before, people were fighting over the same issue, and we as the police were called and when we got here, there wasn’t much we could do.”

Witnesses told investigators a two-day dispute led to more than a dozen people arguing in the middle of the street when Taliefer waded in as a peacemaker only to be confronted by a woman waving a gun and threatening to use it.

Within seconds, the boy was fatally wounded twice.

“We can’t be everywhere 24 hours a day,” said Roach.

Dozens of campers from Young Men Inc., many of them about Harry’s age, held a prayer vigil at the spot where the boy fell.

Shonna Majors, Mayor Hogsett’s choice as the Community Violence Reduction Coordinator tasked with finding a solution to Indianapolis violence, took a break from vetting grant applicants for $300,000 in city funding to meet with the youngsters.

“Most of the programs offered a youth-focused, youth-centered programming,” she said of the applications that closed July 6. “It's becoming normalized through media, through movies, music and everything, so we have to get back to the basics and get back to the family being strengthened and everyone getting back to the love of each other and taking care and looking out for each other and not adults getting involved in young peoples’ issues.”

The Peace Learning Center in in Eagle Creek Park submitted a grant request for this year’s new-found funds provided by Hogsett and the City County Council.

In 2017, the center received $50,000 in a Crime Prevention Grant funded by the city but administered by the Central Indiana Community Fund which is vetting applications for $2 million in grants this year.

“We can’t avoid talking about violence in Indiana,” said Director of Operations Tiffany Talbert. “It has to be talked about even with preschoolers.”

Talbert said the Peace Learning Center will teach classes on conflict resolution, communication and team building to more than ten thousand students during the course of the year.

“They are aware of police killings, they are aware of immigration rights, they are aware of all of these things that are effecting their families everyday,” she said, “and its not just that we can talk about, ‘How do we all get along?’ or, ‘What does sharing mean?’ They want to talk about the bigger issues.”

CICF will announce recipients of this year’s grants by late September.

IMPD arrested Shantell Taylor, 33, for the murder of Taliefer.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered her held for 72 hours pending formal charges. Her attorney told reporters that while Taylor was not the shooter, he was weighing her potential cooperation with prosecutors.