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Police Officer Shot "Mentally Ill, Unstable" Man in Indianapolis

Jason Reese

On Monday afternoon, an Indianapolis mother called the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police in hopes of finding help for her son. The man, in his 30s, had told his mother he intended to commit suicide by police. Since he had a history of mental illness and instability, the mother initially called police to ask them to check on him.

When the first IMPD officer arrived on the south side near Edgewood and Shelby, he was able to speak to the mother and relay the details of the situation to all other responding officers via radio. The first encounter between an officer and the mentally ill man resulted in the man being shot.

The officer, who had completed Level II mental crisis training, reports that the man had a towel wrapped around his hand and began jogging toward the officer. The officer ordered the man to stop but he did not. The officer shot the man one time. As a result of that gunshot wound, the man was taken to Eskenazi Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Despite Training, Assumptions Still Made

Police officers make split-second judgment calls every single day. This particular officer had undergone special training (required of all officers) intended to provide him with the tools to “identify and de-escalate situations involving mental/emotional subjects.” This is not the highest level of possible training available to IMPD officers. The most in-depth training, crisis intervention training, has been required for all officers who have come aboard in the last five years. The officer involved in the shooting was a 15-year veteran of the department, so it was initially unclear as to whether or not he had attended the more intensive training or belonged to the IMPD crisis intervention team.

In this particular case, the man who was shot was found to be unarmed. Sgt. Kendale Adams indicated the officer’s reaction was based on the mother’s report that the man intended to commit suicide by police. Whether the officer’s assumption from this information was that the man was armed or potentially dangerous in another way, it is unclear. The mental crisis training he had undergone hopes to increase the chances of non-violent outcomes when a police officer encounters a person in the midst of a psychiatric crisis. One wonders, however, if a peaceful outcome may have been possible in this situation, especially since the initial call to the IMPD was intended to improve the safety of a mentally unstable man. Instead, he was shot.

As with all officer-involved shootings, this case will be reviewed by the IMPD. Usually, police shootings are vindicated in such internal investigations. It is a hard battle to go up against police officers and departments who have harmed someone, but the civil rights attorneys at Wagner Reese have decades of experience protecting the vulnerable from the powerful. If you or a loved one have been harmed in an interaction with a police officer, call us today at (888) 204-8440 for a FREE consultation.

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