Family, attorney speak out on lawsuit against IMPD officer after violent confrontation at Shortridge High School

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The attorney for an Indianapolis family spoke out this morning after they filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against officers involved in a violent confrontation at Shortridge High School last week.

The case of Pointer v. Officer Richard Lawson  was filed by the Kinnard & Scott law firm on behalf of Danielle Pointer and two juveniles.

The lawsuit comes after several videos surfaced showing an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer punching a student outside Shortridge High School last Thursday.

The first video released last week shows an IMPD officer, identified as Officer Robert Lawson in the lawsuit, punching a teenager after a heated exchange.

A second video released yesterday with the lawsuit was shot from across the street. The lawyer representing Pointer and the students says it came from a “concerned citizen.”

The lawsuit describes what attorneys say is happening in the video. They say Lawson became angry when Pointer loudly protested how an officer handled a fight at the school earlier in the day.

Attorneys say one of the students "maintained his arms at his sides and made no aggressive moves" as he approached Lawson. That’s when Lawson struck the student "without warning" in the jaw with "a powerful closed-fist punch".

During the press conference Thursday morning, Attorney Terrance Kinnard said the video captured the entire encounter and there was "zero interaction" between the student (referred to as AW) and the officer. "The only complicit interaction between the two would have been at the point AW believed he was summoned toward the officer because the officer indicated he was going to arrest him. He pulled his pants up, took a step forward, and as he did so, the video clearly shows unprovoked, the student AW made no verbal statements, the student AW was punched by the officer."

Kinnard says both teens involved are exceptional students with high grades and high marks. "AW works two part-time jobs after school, one of which he tutors elementary school kids."

Lawson was placed on administrative leave. The two other officers seen on the video are named as “Jane Doe” and “John Roe.”

IMPD has not commented about the lawsuit, but last weekend, Chief Bryan Roach released a statement saying the incident shows "a technique which is not taught or reasonable given the facts known.”

We also reached out to IPS officials who would not comment on pending litigation, but in a statement they said the safety and security of their students remains a top priority.

The suit also alleges that Lawson lied about his conduct, saying in the incident report that he delivered an “open palm” strike to the teen. One of the officers also tried to seize the phone that recorded the incident.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees, litigation costs and “all other appropriate relief.”

Kinnard said he thinks charges should be filed against the officer, and he should be given the opportunity to have his case adjudicated through the legal system.

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