INDIANAPOLIS — Raw IMPD body-worn camera video, released under an order by a Federal Court, shows the 10-minute-long effort patrol officers engaged in with Herman Whitfield III before deployment of a department-issued electronic stun device that contributed to the man’s fatal heart attack while in the midst of a mental health crisis.

While the video released by Whitfield’s family this weekend shows many of the same images as an IMPD-released video from last June, it adds context, additional audio and portrays the concerns of the 39-year-old man’s parents when police arrived at their home in the 3700 block of Marrison Place at approximately 3:20 a.m. last April 25.

“Hey, you called?” asks Officer Adam Ahmad, responding to a report of man fighting with his father.

“Yeah,” answered father Herman Whitfield II. “He’s having a psychosis. I asked you to bring an ambulance and a shot or something.”

“Where’s he at?” asks Ahmad as he enters the house and Officer Dominque Clark follows, calling Police Dispatch to send an ambulance.

Upon entering the home, Clark immediately attempts to open a dialog with the younger Whitfield.

“Herman, can you sit down up here, Herman?” she asks. “Okay, let me see you do it.”

Family attorney Richard Waples has viewed the hours of raw body-worn camera video.

”And the police at the beginning, in fact, Officer Clark, I think, handles him fairly well,” he said.

Clark’s pleas for Whitfield to get dressed and cooperate fail as Gladys Whitfield begins to express doubt about her son’s well-being in the presence of police.

“They’re not going to kill him, are they?” she asks, “because because he’s…”

“We’re just talking to him, ma’am,” Clark reassures her.

“I know, I know,” answers Gladys, “but you’re calling someone else? I’m just really concerned.”

“Okay, well, we’re just talking to him,” says Clark. “Nobody has anything out that would harm him, okay?”

Waples said Whitfield’s mental distress was obvious.

“Herman is undergoing a mental health crisis, he’s very vulnerable, he doesn’t attack or challenge or threaten the officers in any way, he doesn’t have a weapon, he’s naked. He’s just confused.”

Clark continues in her futile attempt to reassure Whitfield while another officer calls him by a family nickname.

“I got some people coming to talk to you,” says Clark.

“Tres, can you come outside for me? Can you come outside for me, bud?” asks Ahmad.

“No,” says Whitfield.

“You don’t want to go the hospital?” the officer asks.

For two minutes Whitfield sits motionless, naked and unresponsive on his bed as even his mother’s pleas fail.

“Tres, why aren’t you talking to us?” she asks.

Then Whitfield bursts from his room, barging past his parents and Ahmad, crashing through the kitchen knocking over pans and water bottles while screeching and rounding a corner into the family dining room where he confronts Officer Steven Sanchez who has pulled his electronic stun device.

“Taser!” Sanchez shouts as he pulls the trigger twice in 15 seconds as Whitfield tumbles to the floor, entwining himself in a tablecloth, and screaming.

”And Herman, instead of rushing the officer, tries to get around the dining room table away from the officer and that’s when he tazes him,” observed Waples.

“Don’t move,” orders an officer.

“Oh, my god, I’m dying” says Whitfield.

“Roll over,” says the officer.

“I’m dying.”

“Roll over.”

“I’m dying.”

“Stop fighting.”

At this point, Sanchez is leaning on the back of Whitfield’s head with his arm as officers struggle to handcuff the 390-pound man face down on the floor of his parent’s house.

“Wah. Ahhh. Cannot breathe. Cannot breathe. Ow. My,” gasps Whitfield.

Then, a minute and 21 seconds after he is first stunned, Herman Whitfield utters his final words.

“Ah, Jesus.”

For two minutes Whitfield remains lifeless until a rookie officer, not involved in the struggle, with less than a year on IMPD, asks, “Do you guys want to leave him on his stomach or roll him to his side?”

“No,” answers Ahmad. “I don’t want him to get up again.”

Officers do not check Whitfield for breathing or pulse, while in the background other officers can be heard reassuring the man’s parents that despite his lifeless body, their son is in no medical danger.

Waples cited IMPD’s own General Orders which direct that the use of an Electronic Control Device is considered a higher level of force than chemical sprays or baton strikes, “The act of fleeing, without other factors involved, does not justify the use of an ECD,” and, “Officers will not restrain subjects who are in custody and under control in a manner that restricts their ability to breathe, and shall reposition the subject into a recovery position as soon as practical.

”They decided to leave him face down after he cried out he couldn’t breathe, and in violation of the General Orders, and their own training, and the known risk of positional asphyxiation,” said the attorney, a veteran of decades of representing families in civil and federal civil rights violations suits against law enforcement agencies.

”Police communities and departments, for 25 years around the country, have known these risks and require officers to get people up right away, because of the dangers of positional asphyxiation and the videos clearly show that the officer decided not to do that.

”The officers’ failings are they are not trained enough and then they just decide to go in and use force and its at that point when they crossed the line and it became a Fourth Amendment violation,” he said. ”They decided to leave him face down after he cried out he couldn’t breathe, and in violation of the General Orders, and their own training, and the known risk of positional asphyxiation and resulted in what the coroner has already ruled is a homicide.

It was almost four minutes after Whitfield uttered his final words that paramedics enter the home and attempt to roust the man cuffed on the floor.

“Hey, bud,” says one paramedic.

“Is he breathing?” asks her partner.

“Herman. Hey, Herman.”

The paramedic tells officers to uncuff Whitfield and roll him on his back as she checks for a carotid pulse before beginning CPR.

“Why are they doing that if he is okay?” Gladys asks.

“I thought he was okay,” said Whitfield’s father.

Within the hour Whitfield is pronounced dead at a hospital.

The Marion County Coroner listed Whitfield’s cause of death as, “Cardiopulmonary arrest in the setting of law enforcement subdual, prone restraint, and conducted electrical weapon use.”

Other contributing conditions included, “Morbid obesity; Hypertensive cardiovascular disease.”

Manner of death, “Homicide.”

“The City needed to have more trained crisis intervention people there,” said Waples. ”We do think it’s encouraging that the City has budgeted more money to have a crisis negotiation team and response team available during the evening hours.”

Waples said it is still too early to determine the Whitfield family’s monetary and systemic lawsuit demands of IMPD.

When IMPD released its version of the body-worn camera video last June, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 86 issued the following statement:

“First and foremost the outcome of this incident is a tragedy for all involved and we extend condolences to the family of Mr. Whitfield.

We also recognize the emotional trauma for the officers involved who were called to the scene to intervene and assist during this matter.

We await a full and fair review of the facts surrounding this evolving investigation based on the facts known by those involved at the time of the incident, including the officers on the scene.

Meanwhile, it is important to remember a determination of homicide does not mean the actions of the officers were criminal in nature.

In fact, of the five legal manner of death options available to the coroner, it is often the term chosen to describe a death occurring in a struggle with another. 

To date, there is no allegation of criminal culpability and it’s apparent several contributing factors were involved. Yet the outcome remains tragic nonetheless.

Our professional police officers remain focused on providing service and protection for all in Indianapolis as this matter remains under review.”

On Sunday, IMPD issued the following statement regarding the Whitfield family’s release of the raw body-worn camera video:

IMPD turned over the necessary materials to all of the parties involved in this lawsuit, and that includes officer body-worn-camera footage. Out of respect for the judicial process, we do not comment on pending litigation. 

Right now, a separate administrative investigation is being conducted by IMPD Internal Affairs. The officers involved in this incident remain on administrative duty.

At the conclusion of the criminal investigation and any criminal proceedings, the civilian-majority Use of Force Review Board will review the criminal and administrative investigations and make a recommendation to the Chief of Police on whether the officer’s actions were in compliance with department policies and training.

Based on a careful review of the facts and the Use of Force Board’s feedback, Chief Taylor will consider discipline up to a recommendation of termination to the IMPD Civilian Police Merit Board.

Waples said the Marion County Prosecutor has convened a Grand Jury to determine if the officers engaged in criminal actions during the incident.

Monday, at noon, a “Justice for Herman Whitfield III” rally will be held on Monument Circle.