INDIANAPOLIS — A violent confrontation between an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer and a man in custody is reigniting a larger conversation about police reform.
Police said it started with reports of a homeless man yelling loudly on Monument Circle and disturbing the peace, but IMPD's chief said it should not have resulted in the violence captured on body cams.
“I promised this community and I promised our officers that I would be transparent in the good times and the bad times, and this is a bad time,” said Chief Randal Taylor.
It’s a promise community leaders are pleased to see after calls for police reform and accountability.
“I think that the police department here is moving swiftly and they are moving in a way that will continue to give them credibility with the community,” said Pastor Kenneth Sullivan Jr. with New Direction Church.
Sullivan is engaged in conversations about police reform and making sure community voices are part of the process.
“It is so important for the police department, as well as the community, to have that good relationship so the police department can have credibility and the community can have comfort in knowing law enforcement hears them,” Sullivan said.
Even though progress is being made, leaders say there is still a long way to go, and the body camera video that captured the incident makes that clear.
“We are moving the needle, but when you hear the officer’s comments saying he accidentally kicked him, it’s like, ‘hmm, it’s hard to accidentally kick somebody,’” said TyJuan Garrett, attorney and vice president of the NAACP in Indianapolis.
Garrett said the incident shows the importance of more de-escalation training for officers.
“Training, training, training. You can’t emphasize it enough,” he said.
Earlier this year, a state law tackled police reform by requiring officers to go through mandatory de-escalation training, banning chokeholds in certain situations and making it a misdemeanor for an officer to intentionally turn off a body camera to cover up a crime.
Community members say this all is a step in the right direction, but that doesn’t excuse the officer’s actions.
“Too often in our milieu, people that have summary judgment authority, a badge, a gun can kill us. Somehow, the dynamic works differently when there's a white person in a blue uniform with a badge and there is a Black victim,” said Pastor Lionel Rush, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.
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