Attorney addresses excessive force lawsuit filed against city, police

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INDIANAPOLIS — The attorney representing the two women seen in a viral video spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday afternoon.

An excessive force lawsuit against the city and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) for the arrest involving his clients on May 31st.

Three officers and a sergeant are all listed as John Doe are at the forefront of a federal lawsuit stemming from an arrest the first weekend of protests and riots in Indianapolis. They’re all facing charges of excessive force and duty to intervene.

Attorney Terrance Kinnard is asking for transparency since the names of the three officers and sergeant involved has not been released. And since his clients were arrested for battery on an officer and disorderly conduct instead of violating curfew.

“A viewing of that video reminded me of the 1964 Birmingham, Alabama race riots…The only thing missing between that and what happened on May 31st was water hoses and German Shepherds,” said Kinnard.

The video shows Ivore Westfield and Rachel Harding being arrested following protests and riots. The lawsuit claims officers told them the arrest was for violating an 8 p.m., curfew, the incident happened.

“Her body was contorted in such a way that caused her pain when she moves to alleviate that pain she was then summarily beaten and assaulted by IMPD officers,” said Kinnard.

The lawsuit goes on to say both women were cooperative and neither posed a threat. In fact, the attorney says they were 25 feet away from the car leaving downtown when approached.

“A sergeant who had detained her then commanded his subordinates to assault her with pepper balls and beat her relentlessly with clubs. she was beaten so severely that it left these types of bruises,” said Kinnard.

For the first time, Kinnard and his team are releasing photos showing bodily injuries resulting from the arrests.

“She was then left in the jail for three days with her injuries and she was not offered any medical attention,” said Kinnard.

Our team also spoke to civil law attorney Aaron Williamson to learn what cases like this need to win to court. He says to prove a case you have to overcome two hurdles.

“Qualified immunity is a judicially instructed concept to get state actors some breathing room so they can make reasonable mistakes,” said Williamson.

And the second hurdle.

“Was it a constitutional violation? And if so, was that constitutional violation clearly established,” said Williamson.

Aside from the damages, they are asking for transparency before they can reach a resolution.

“The first thing I’m going to want IMPD and the Prosecutors office to do is operate in transparency. And until they do that there are no resolutions that we can seek where we come to terms. Let’s start with operating in transparency. Do not hide this kind of conduct from the citizens,” said Kinnard.

Attorney Kinnard is ultimately blaming the sergeant for ordering the officers to take those actions.

IMPD tells us that they reassigned those involved after this incident but will not comment on the lawsuit. The city has refused to comment due to pending litigation.

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