INDIANAPOLIS — In May 2022, the mother of Chris Beaty filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Indianapolis, Mayor Joe Hogsett, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and IMPD Chief Randall Taylor.
On Tuesday, a federal judge dismissed that lawsuit.
In addition to wrongful death, the lawsuit claimed the defendants deprived Beaty of his Fourteenth Amendment right to be “free from the deprivation of life, liberty and property without the due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Beaty was shot and killed in downtown Indianapolis on May 30, 2020, during the riots that erupted after a protest in response to the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The lawsuit claimed police and city leaders failed to do enough to maintain public safety, thus leading to Beaty’s death.
“It is difficult to ignore Beaty’s tragic death and the Court feels great empathy for the Estate, but the Constitution does not guarantee Beaty’s safety from criminals,” stated Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Judge Pratt also stated that, “Apart from the crime occurring in the same region of the City and around the time the protests ended, there is no factual allegation that supports a finding that the protests and Beaty’s murder are connected—let alone that the crime was somehow caused by the Defendants.”
From the ruling:
The Complaint is devoid of facts that any Defendant acted to create or enhance a danger Beaty otherwise would not have faced. Unfortunately, while acting as a ‘good Samaritan,’ the danger for Beaty was created by Beaty and not by the Defendants. Accordingly, the Court concludes that the Estate has not alleged sufficient facts to support a finding that the Defendants, through any acts or omissions, created or increased the danger to Beaty.
In the lawsuit, Beaty’s mother, Debra Cooper, claimed the city and its leaders “failed to provide for and maintain the public safety in downtown Indianapolis.” More specifically, the suit said IMPD “failed to properly train its officers in the proper procedures to implement an IAP which would help maintain order and preserve the peace.” IAP stands for Incident Action Plan. The lawsuit asserts that city leaders were responsible for implementing an IAP in response to the riots.
“Mr. Beaty heard a commotion and came to the aid of person(s) being robbed by individuals who were suspected of numerous other armed robberies in the downtown area that same night,” the lawsuit stated. “In the course of helping the robbery victim, Mr. Beaty was shot by one or more of the robbers. Mr. Beaty died at the scene of the crime.”
Here were a few key accusations from the lawsuit:
IMPD leadership had not anticipated the size of the crowds and were not prepared for what transpired over the weekend. The crowd size, IMPD’s lack of training and preparation in dealing with peaceful First Amendment protests, as well as the fact the crowd was protesting police themselves, contributed to the mayhem and air of lawlessness that ensued over the weekend.
Street officers were given very little if no instruction and were told merely to come downtown and maintain order
The Defendants’ actions and failures to act resulted in a heightened state of violence and unprotected air of lawlessness throughout the downtown area. Failing to properly disperse the violent crowd and follow up with patrols throughout the residential downtown neighborhoods, were a proximate cause of the wrongful death of Mr. Beaty.
As the representative of Beaty’s estate, the suit seeked Cooper be awarded damages for “the loss of Christopher Beaty, Beaty’s loss of services, loss of love and affection, emotional support, funeral and burial expenses, and incidental expenses associated with the cost of the administration of the Estate of Christopher Beaty” as well as attorney’s fees and costs of suit and any other relief as the court deems fit.