INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said he had engaged in several conversations with IMPD Chief Randal Taylor in the wake of a fatal officer-involved shooting Aug. 3rd on the city’s northeast side.
Gary Dwayne Harrell, 49, died of a police gunshot wound to the back as he fled a traffic stop in possession of a handgun and cocaine, according to an IMPD source.
IMPD Body Worn Camera video of that incident has been publicly released.
”We’ve had several conversations about it and obviously I reviewed it on my own,” said Hogsett. ” It’s very disturbing and I trust the process. I do think with our creation of a Use of Force policy and a Use of Force Review Board, those will be profound in terms of the public’s reaction to holding people accountable who need to be held accountable.”
Officer Douglas Correll was identified as the IMPD patrolman who fired on Harrell during a foot pursuit.
IMPD General Order 4.33 “Foot Pursuits” states that an officer may engage in a foot pursuit when he or she has, “reasonable suspicion to believe that the person has committed or is about to commit a criminal offense,” and to, “protect the public.”
The officer is directed to consider, “the seriousness of the offense and the danger to public safety,” and, “whether the subject is armed or whether the officer is acting alone.”
Those last two conditions were present that morning in the 3400 block of North Parker Avenue.
IMPD General Order 1.30 “Use of Force – Principles” states that an officer should issue a verbal warning prior to the use of force.
On Correll’s BWC he is clearly heard to shout “Stop it! Drop it!” to Harrell.
The Order indicates an officer must consider the “objective reasonableness of use of force” which is “based on the totality of the circumstances known by the officer at the time.”
“The objective reasonableness of force must be judged from the perspective of what a reasonable officer would use under the same or similar circumstances.”
Factors to be considered include the immediate threat presented, whether the subject is “attempting to evade by fleeing,” and the, “proximity of weapons or dangerous devices.”
“The more immediate the threat and the more likely the threat will result in death or serious physical injury, the greater the level of force may be required to counter it.”
Deadly force is permitted for an officer to, “apprehend a fleeing person for any felony that threatened or resulted in death or serious bodily injury, if the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or serious bodily injury unless immediately apprehended.”
IMPD’s General Orders are based on U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
In “Tennessee v. Garner” and again in “Graham v. Connor”, the Court held that officers may apply deadly force in the defense of life and by applying objective reasonableness, “given the facts known at the time.”
Though the BWC video does not indicate such, a source within IMPD indicated that Correll perceived Harrell’s loaded five-shot .357 revolver pointed at him twice during the confrontation.
When Harrell emerged from the vehicle after a traffic stop for reckless driving, a misdemeanor, he is clearly heard informing Correll that, “I just came home from prison.”
Indiana Department of Correction files indicate that Harrell was paroled in 2014 for various convictions including Reckless Homicide, Battery and Handgun violations.
As a Serious Violent Felon, that day Harrell would have had a reasonable expectation that he could face up to 12 years in prison if charged and convicted on the gun charge alone.
In a statement following the release of the video, Harrell’s family conceded that, “Although Gary made a poor choice that morning, it should not have cost him his life,” and that while Harrell was stumbling and running away from the officer, “Gary never assaulted, or even touched, Correll.”
Furthermore, the family referred to a 2018 lawsuit filed by an Indianapolis man, Joshua Harris, against Correll in which he claimed the officer falsely arrested and assaulted him during an investigation when Harris reported that he was the victim of a shooting.
According to Harrell’s family, that settlement cost the City of Indianapolis $380,000.
FOP attorneys and IMPD Chief Randal Taylor were not available for comment.
An attorney for the Harrell family has taken on national civil rights attorney Ben Crump as co-counsel and indicates there may be a community event in the days to come.
It was a controversial but justified fatal officer-involved shooting in Indianapolis in May of 2020, just a few days before a Minneapolis man was killed by police, that set off waves of protest and violence downtown that resulted in millions of dollars in financial losses, the arrests and subsequent dismissed cases against dozens of people and criminal charges lodged against two IMPD officers.
”My thoughts are to Mr. Harrell and his family and frankly to everyone who is involved in the process,” said Mayor Hogsett. “It’s under criminal and internal investigation currently, ultimately will be reviewed by our civilian majority Use of Force Board and obviously pursue as much transparency and accountability during the process as we can afford.
”We are monitoring the public’s reaction to this,” continued Hogsett. “Obviously we did experience a difficult weekend back in May of 2020 and I would hope that that would not reoccur. That’s why I would encourage everyone to recognize and acknowledge those transparent accountability measures that have been put into place subsequent to May of 2020 that I think hopefully will keep peoples’ faith in the system being accountable and transparent.”
John Kautzman and Leo Blackwell, the attorneys for Correll, sent FOX59/CBS4 a statement regarding the incident on Wednesday. In the statement, the legal team said they “endorse and reiterate the comments” made by IMPD Police Chief Randal Taylor, stating that there needs to be a “‘thorough and complete’ investigation to be done before any conclusions are made” regarding the incident.
“A legal analysis of this encounter cannot be based solely upon the cursory examination of video footage,” the statement read. “We look forward to the investigation revealing exactly what information was known to the officer at the time, precisely what actions Mr. Harrell took and all actions taken by Officer Correll pursuant to his training and experience. Like all other significant decisions, the review of an incident like this cannot be rushed, and should rise and fall based upon a detailed review of the totality of circumstances.”
The statement said that Correll’s legal team looks forward to a “fair and impartial review” of the incident that is free of political influence and undue public pressure.
Here is the statement provided to FOX59/CBS4 in full:
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department released body camera footage yesterday regarding the fatal police shooting earlier this month involving IMPD Officer Douglas Correll. We first and foremost acknowledge that any death is a tragedy and the thoughts of Officer Correll and the law enforcement community go out to the Harrell family. We endorse and reiterate the comments of Chief Randal Taylor calling for a “thorough and complete” investigation to be done before any conclusions are made. A legal analysis of this encounter cannot be based solely upon the cursory examination of video footage. We look forward to the investigation revealing exactly what information was known to the officer at the time, precisely what actions Mr. Harrell took, and all actions taken by Officer Correll pursuant to his training and experience. Like all other significant decisions, the review of an incident like this cannot be rushed, and should rise and fall based upon a detailed review of the totality of circumstances. Departmental policies, Indiana statute, and U.S. Supreme Court caselaw allows an officer to use deadly force in several circumstances, especially in tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving situations. We therefore must await a full and fair investigative process. Far too often, political pundits and others are quick to judge police action shootings based upon little more than a snippet of video. Fortunately, longstanding legal precedent requires a much more thorough analysis. We look forward to a fair and impartial review of this matter free of political influence and undue public pressure. That is the only way to arrive at a final determination based solely upon the evidence.John Kautzman & Leo Blackwell, Attorneys for IMPD Officer Douglas Correll