INDIANAPOLIS — The family of Herman Whitfield III filed a lawsuit in Marion County, claiming that the actions of Indianapolis Metropolitan police officers against Whitfield are actionable under the common law of Indiana, as well as the state’s Tort Claims Act.
In this new lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, Herman Whitfield Jr. and Gladys Whitfield, the parents of Herman Whitfield III, are seeking monetary damages against the city of Indianapolis. The parents said they “watched in anguish while their son was needlessly killed by several of the city’s police officers.”
According to previous reports, Herman Whitfield III was undergoing a mental health crisis on April 25, 2022, and the parents called 911. When officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department arrived, they found Herman Whitfield III and said he was not responding to them.
Officers used a Taser on him twice, knocking him on the ground. Previous reports said that officers handcuffed him as he lay on his stomach and Herman Whitfield III could be heard saying “I can’t breathe” in the body camera footage. He later died at the hospital.
“(Herman Whitfield III) died because of the excessive force used against him,” the lawsuit read. “The Marion County Coroner ruled that Mr. Whitfield’s death was a homicide. The Marion County Coroner determined that Mr. Whitfield died from ‘Cardiopulmonary Arrest in the Setting of Law Enforcement Subdual, Prone Restraint and Conducted Electrical Weapon Use.’ The force used against Mr. Whitfield was more than negligent. Mr. Whitfield needed professional mental health care, not the use of excessive force.”
The lawsuit indicated that Whitfield’s parents served a Tort Claims Notice to the city of Indianapolis, which it denied. The lawsuit said the officers’ actions against Herman Whitfield III, along with the infliction of emotional distress upon his parents, are actionable under the common law of Indiana and the state’s Tort Claims Act.
This comes after the family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Indianapolis and six IMPD officers in federal court. According to previous reports, the family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
In an update from Richard Waples, the lawyer representing the Whitfield family in both suits, he said the Marion County lawsuit is brought on behalf the parents themselves. The federal lawsuit is being brought forward by the estate of Herman Whitfield III.
Two IMPD officers, Steven Sanchez and Adam Ahmad, have been criminally indicted in relation to the incident. According to previous reports, Sanchez and Ahmad were both charged with counts of involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and battery. Jury trials for Ahmad and Sanchez are scheduled for mid-January.