2 Indianapolis cops charged in death of black man

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two Indianapolis police officers have been indicted by a grand jury in the death of a black man who died last year after being taken into police custody at his parents’ home, prosecutors said Thursday.

The indictment of officers Adam Ahmad and Steven Sanchez comes nearly a year after the death of Herman Whitfield III. His family sued the city of Indianapolis and six police officers in June over the death of the 39-year-old pianist.

Sanchez has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, while Ahmad has been charged with one count, Marion County Attorney Ryan Mears said in a news release. Both were also charged with reckless homicide, battery with aggravated assault and battery with moderate injury – all felony charges – and one misdemeanor battery charge.

Online court filings did not list an attorney for either Ahmad or Sanchez.

Five officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and a recruit trainee were called to the home of Whitfield’s parents on April 25, 2022 while he was in a mental episode, The Indianapolis Star reported. During that interaction, police used a stun gun on Whitfield and handcuffed him to the ground, naked and face down, the newspaper said.

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He died shortly after arriving at a hospital. An autopsy revealed he died of heart failure while being restrained by law enforcement and ruled the death a homicide, the newspaper reported.

The lawsuit, filed by Whitfield’s family, alleges that responding officers used a stun gun on him and then “knocked the air out of an unarmed, nonviolent man.” It also claims officers ignored Whitfield’s “I can’t breathe” cries.

Whitfield, whom officials described as about 1.9 meters (6 ft 2) and about 127 kilograms (280 pounds), had a mental health issue and needed an ambulance, responding officials said.

Officers told investigators they tried to negotiate with Whitfield and used de-escalation tactics for more than 10 minutes before Whitfield quickly approached an officer, police said.

“The officer activated the taser twice and the man continued to resist,” police said in a press release at the time.

Officers handcuffed Whitfield, but medics received no response from him and began CPR, police said.

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Brian Ashcraft

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