FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUSTICE FOR HERMAN WHITFIELD III CAMPAIGN
Media Contact: Dea Lott – firstname.lastname@example.org
Baltimore, MD (September 15, 2023)
This week, the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign learned, from an email, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) invited the Black Church Coalition of Faith in Indiana to a CLOSED meeting on Wednesday, September 20, 2023. A few individuals and other organizations were invited to attend this meeting as well.
The Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign was not invited to attend this meeting, our Campaign will not attend this meeting, and does not support private or closed meetings of this nature. We believe that meetings with the DOJ and the FBI should be transparent and open to the public to attend.
We want the Indianapolis community to know that the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign has never planned with, never received support from, and never organized with Faith in Indiana or its Black Church Coalition. Faith in Indiana and the Black Church Coalition are not and were never part of the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign. The Whitfield family invited some members of the Black Church Coalition to attend our Campaign’s Community Memorial in October 2022, other of their members attended our Campaign’s events courtesy of an open invitation to all in the community, and, at the request of the Whitfield family, there was general information exchanged with Josh Riddick from the Black Church Coalition of Faith in Indiana for a time.
From a recent Indianapolis Recorder article about the Black Church Coalition, dated September 14, 2023, it appears that the Party for Socialism and Liberation (“PSL”) is supporting and/or organizing with the Black Church Coalition of Faith in Indiana. Therefore, we would like the Indianapolis community to know that, from January 2023 to March 2023, the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign accepted support from the Indianapolis Liberation Center and its member organizations (including the Party for Socialism and Liberation of Indianapolis and ANSWER Indiana). However, on April 6, 2023, the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign stopped accepting support from and ended this brief association with the Indianapolis Liberation Center and its member organizations.
The Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign does not request, does not organize, and does not attend CLOSED meetings with the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or other prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.
The Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign began mobilizing in May 2022 after the brutal death of our loved one, friend, and neighbor, Herman Whitfield III, and is a 100% volunteer and community-based effort and has the support of the Whitfield family. Learn more at www.justice4herman3rd.org/
(Minor revisions for clarification have been made to this statement as of 9/17/2023)
Media Contact: Dea Lott – email@example.com
Baltimore, MD (Friday, July 28, 2023)
The Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign is aware of the launch of the Clinician Led Community Response Pilot Program. This Campaign wholeheartedly and unquestionably supports mental health crisis response teams that do not include IMPD or law enforcement of any kind. However, this pilot program is lacking – most notably due to its limited hours of operation from 10am to 8pm. It does absolutely nothing for those people - like our friend and neighbor Herman Whitfield III - who the police have killed during mental health crises that occurred over night and into the early morning hours.
And, while this Campaign recognizes the need for and supports changes to improve the mental health system’s failings, let us never confuse what happened to Herman last year. The mental health system did not kill Herman.
Six Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officers came into the Whitfield family’s home and electrocuted and suffocated Herman Whitfield III in his family’s living room.
We view this as a weak attempt by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to pacify and distract the Indianapolis community from his lack of leadership in addressing the historic and systemic problem of police violence in Indianapolis.
If Mayor Hogsett sincerely intends to heal the Indianapolis community, he will acknowledge the systemic harm caused by those officers who abuse their authority and callously maim and kill Indianapolis citizens without just cause. His first step toward healing this community should be meeting this Campaign’s demands as follows:
1) TERMINATE ALL SIX IMPD police officers involved in killing Herman Whitfield III.
2) REQUEST U.S. DEPT OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATIONS of the police homicide of Herman Whitfield III & IMPD policies and practices.
3) ENSURE GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY in both the civil & criminal court cases.
4) REASSURE the community that he stands for justice - even when police officers violate the law and policies, harm, and kill citizens.
The Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign began mobilizing in May 2022 – shortly after the brutal death of our loved one, friend, and neighbor, Herman Whitfield III. Learn more at the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign’s website: https://www.justice4herman3rd.org/
Media Contact: Dea Lott – firstname.lastname@example.org
Baltimore, MD (Thursday, July 6, 2023)
The Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign is calling for national support during the upcoming criminal trials of two Indianapolis police officers who killed Herman Whitfield III - the son of an Indianapolis attorney – scheduled for later this month.
Herman III’s mother, Gladys M. Whitfield, is a former social justice attorney who spent most of her legal career representing impoverished clients in the Indianapolis metro area. She is currently serving an appointment as a federal administrative law judge in Indianapolis. She and Herman Whitfield, Jr., a laboratory technician, raised Herman Whitfield III on the east side of Indianapolis. Herman III, a child prodigy and award-winning piano virtuoso and composer, was killed by six Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (“IMPD”) officers in April 2022.
In the dark early morning hours of April 25, 2022, Herman III was disoriented, naked, and experiencing a mental crisis at his home. Concerned, Gladys called 911 to request emergency medical and mental assistance to treat him. Despite her request for medical assistance, six police officers came to the home and, without any provocation or threat, electrocuted Herman III by taser and suffocated him for approximately 5 minutes.
After Herman III stopped breathing, IMPD officers searched the Whitfield home without a warrant and without permission (and only obtained a warrant later) and threatened to arrest Gladys when she objected to the search of her home. Officers also told Gladys and Herman Jr. that they could not leave their home. After reaching out to an attorney, they managed to escape their home by backing out of their garage, while an officer ran after them down their driveway. By the time Gladys and Herman arrived at the hospital, they were told that their son had been pronounced dead and that they could not see him. They insisted and, several hours later, they were finally allowed to see their son’s body, but only under IMPD's watch. In July 2022, WRTV in Indianapolis reported that the county coroner ruled that Herman III’s death was a homicide caused by "cardiopulmonary arrest in the setting of law enforcement subdual, prone restraint, and conducted electrical weapon use."
In April 2023, the New York Times and USA Today reported Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ announcement that a grand jury indicted only two of the six officers - Steven Sanchez and Adam Ahmad - on manslaughter, reckless homicide, and battery charges. Pre-trial hearings before a Marion County Criminal Court for Officers Sanchez and Ahmad are currently scheduled in the Marion County Criminal Court for July 19, 2023 and trials are set for July 25, 2023.
All six officers – including the two officers facing indictments – are still employed by IMPD. And, the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign has obtained IMPD personnel records showing that Officers Steven Sanchez and Jordan Bull received unrelated awards from IMPD during 2022.
Herman Whitfield III’s in-custody death at the hands of police was the first of two police brutality incidents that killed or harmed the relatives of public officials in Indianapolis in 2022. Anthony Macklin, whose grandmother serves as a civilian on the IMPD’s Critical Incident Review Board, survived IMPD officers shooting approximately 30 bullets at him while he was asleep in a rental car in his grandmother’s driveway.
Indianapolis Mayor Joseph Hogsett (D) ignored numerous calls from the Whitfield family’s attorneys, the campaign, and community to release the complete and unedited police body camera footage of Herman’s death to the public. After months of resistance, a federal judge, presiding over the Estate of Herman Whitfield III’s civil case against the city, ordered Mayor Hogsett and IMPD to release the complete and unedited body camera footage. In January 2023, the attorneys for the Estate of Herman Whitfield III released to the public a 22-minute compilation and the full and unedited body camera footage of Herman’s brutal death.
The footage shows the six IMPD officers - Steven Sanchez, Adam Ahmad, Jordan Bull, Dominique Clark, Nicholas Matthew, and Matthew Virt - arriving at the Whitfield home. Within minutes of the last arrivals, officers chased Herman III through the home, tasered him twice, tackled him in the prone position, double-handcuffed him, ignored his cries that he could not breathe, and continued hold him face down in the prone position until he went silent.
Mayor Hogsett has also ignored demands to terminate all six officers and request an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Most other Indianapolis city leaders have followed Hogsett’s lead and remained silent about Herman’s death as well. One notable exception is Indiana Congressman Andre Carson (D), who was the first politician to announce that he requested a DOJ Investigation of Herman III’s death at the In Harmony for Justice memorial concert held to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Herman’s death in April 2023. Later, by letter dated May 3, 2023, a group of fifteen Indiana State Representatives also asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to launch a U.S. Department of Justice investigation. Herman III’s death is one in a long history of extrajudicial killings in Indiana that have not been investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In anticipation of the trials this month, the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign calls on the local, regional, and national community of impacted families, activists, organizers – as well as those academic, business, legal and religious leaders and organizations who professed support for policing reform measures in 2020 - to support the Whitfield family and the Campaign’s current and future demands for justice from both local and national political leaders. The Campaign urges for a united response to Herman’s and the many other extrajudicial police killings and brutality occurring around the country to secure transparency, accountability, justice, and community-developed solutions to change the trajectory of this country.
The Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign began mobilizing in May 2022 – shortly after the brutal death of Herman Whitfield III. Learn more at the Justice for Herman Whitfield Campaign’s website: https://www.justice4herman3rd.org/
Media Contact: Dea Lott, J.D. – email@example.com
Last weekend, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) held a town hall event and Herman Whitfield III's family and our campaign volunteers attended the event.
Our volunteers asked the IBLC one question: "Will the IBLC work with the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign to create community-developed legislation to address the widespread police violence that is harming and killing the IBLC's constituents throughout the state?"
Rep. John Bartlett and Rep. Greg Taylor both answered "Yes" and publicly announced that most of the members of the IBLC signed onto a letter requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the police homicide of Herman Whitfield III.
Our campaign has independently confirmed that eleven IBLC members and four other representatives signed a such a letter dated May 5, 2023. Signers include: Rep. John Bartlett, Rep. Pat Boy, Rep. Carolyn Jackson, Rep. Vanessa Summers, Rep. Gregory Porter, Rep. Vernon Smith, Rep. Ragen Hatcher, Rep. Renee Pack, Rep. Sue Errington, Rep. Cherrish Pryor, Sen. Andrea Hunley, Sen. J.D. Ford, Rep. Greg Taylor, Sen. Jean Breaux, and Sen. Fady Qaddoura.
The IBLC's announcement comes after grand jury indictments and charges against two IMPD officers and Congressman Andre Carson's announcement, at our In Harmony for Justice Free Concert on April 22, 2023, that he requested a U.S. Dept. of Justice investigation into Herman Whitfield III's death.
The Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign will be sure to call on the IBLC as we continue to demand justice in all of its forms for Herman Whitfield III and Indiana communities.
Two weeks ago, on the anniversary of the brutal police killing of George Floyd, Herman Whitfield III's family joined the family members of #GeorgeFloyd, #EmmettTill, and other families who have lost their loved ones to extrajudicial police killings and mob lynchings for the George Floyd Global Memorial's Rise and Remember 2023 in Minneapolis, MN.
The lasting pain and trauma that state violence inflicts on impacted families is unimaginable for those of us who haven’t endured the nightmare. Only those who have suffered this type of loss can truly relate and speak words that might comfort.
BUT, as a local and national community, we can embrace these families by remembering their loved ones, standing beside and supporting their demands for justice, and reminding our government leaders that they serve us and that, united, we will no longer tolerate police violence in our communities.
The Justice for Herman Whitfield IIII Campaign is grateful to the George Floyd Global Memorial Fund, Brass Solidarity, and Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence for the invitation, generosity, and hospitality in Minneapolis.
We stand united in this fight for human rights.
Since April 25, 2022, we have been in the depths of sadness, grief, trauma, despair and fear after being forced to witness the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department police officers brazenly brutalize and kill our son in our faces in our home. What we experienced that day and since is every parent’s worst and continuing nightmare. However, we have summoned our faith, courage and strength to share what happened that day because we need community support at this time and we believe that it is important for all of the Indianapolis community and the world to know what the IMPD did to our son, us, our family, and our community. We also share this statement because we are only one of many families forever harmed by the epidemic of police violence and we wish to publicly express our support for and stand for justice with the many people, in Indianapolis and throughout the country, who have been recklessly traumatized and killed by this country’s extrajudicial policing practices.
Herman Whitfield, III was a child prodigy, phenomenally gifted Black pianist, and composer, and our dearly loved son. But, whether Herman III was exceptional or ordinary does not matter - he was a human. He was a beautiful, caring, gentle, and sensitive human. And, he was a member of the Indianapolis community in need of compassion and care. Yet, at the lowest point of Herman III’s life, the IMPD denied him any compassion as they brutalized and killed him – with no justification for doing so. We think that it has clearly been shown, even with video edited by the IMPD, that the IMPD did not follow its own procedures or policy when they killed Herman III.
Before daylight on April 25, 2022, Herman III was experiencing unexpected severe mental health symptoms and had a minor injury to his face. We were never fearful of our son and he never threatened us in any way. We simply wanted Herman to go to the hospital. We called 911 and requested urgent medical care to help our son as we understood that health professionals and negotiators could help us get Herman III the care that he needed. Instead of an ambulance, six IMPD officers arrived at our home. We were confused to see the IMPD officers. When they came to our door, Herman III's father, Herman Jr., asked the officers where the ambulance was and we told the officers that we wanted Herman III to go to the hospital. The officers never told us that they intended to use tasers or handcuffs on our son. And, we never considered that this type of force would ever be used in responding to a call to help our son - an unarmed and non-threatening person in need of medical care.
We were with our son the entire time that the IMPD officers interacted with him - he was never aggressive and he never posed any threat to us or any of the officers. Without any provocation or warning, to Herman III or us, the IMPD officers tasered our son - once, and then, again. Then, the officers double handcuffed him, kept him positioned with pressure on his chest, and didn't move him even after he cried out that he could not breathe. Then, our son stopped speaking and he stopped moving. When his mother, Gladys, repeatedly asked an IMPD officer what was wrong with Herman III - why he was not moving - the officer told us that he was alright and they tasered him just a little bit. With this air of callousness and apathy, IMPD officers killed our son before our faces in our living room.
According to the coroner's report, IMPD called the paramedics and waited about three minutes as our son lay on his chest and motionless on our living room floor. When the paramedics came into our home, someone finally tried to save Herman III's life, but the paramedics could not resuscitate him. Then, they put him on a stretcher and took him outside. Within minutes of killing our son in front of us, IMPD officers searched our home without a warrant and without permission (and only obtained a warrant later). They also threatened to arrest Gladys when she told them that they did not have permission to search our home.
Rather than escort us to the hospital to spend our last few moments with our son, the police told us that we could not leave our home. So, we called an attorney for help. Meanwhile, we managed to escape our home by backing out of our garage, while the police chased us as we left our driveway. By the time we arrived at the hospital, we were told that our son had been pronounced dead and that we could not see him. But, we insisted and, several hours later, we were finally allowed to see our son's body - and only under IMPD's watch.
In July 2022, after nearly three months of waiting, we received the coroner's report which confirmed that IMPD caused Herman III’s death and documented extensive cuts and internal bleeding in Herman’s head, neck, chest, abdomen, arms, wrists, and left knee and ankle.
Since April 2022, IMPD has refused our requests and others multiple calls to release the complete and unedited body camera footage from all of the police officers who came to our home. Instead, the police have released only a voice-over narrated, heavily edited, and skewed compilation of the body camera footage. Even this video footage, that IMPD edited, shows that IMPD did not follow its own procedures or policies or the law when they killed our son. Yet, the IMPD officers who killed our son have not been fired.
In our efforts to seek justice for Herman III and inform the public about what IMPD did to our son, family, neighborhood, and the Indianapolis community, we have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Indianapolis and we ask for the community to join us in demanding that city officials and police IMMEDIATELY do the following:
1) Release the complete and unedited body camera footage from every officer who came to our home on April 25, 2022 to our attorneys, the press, local organizers, and the public;
2) Terminate all of the officers who were involved in the killing of our son and violation of our rights to ensure that they do not harm any other community members; and
3) Fully comply with the prosecutor's office as it considers arrest of and criminal charges against all of the officers who were involved in the homicide of Herman III.
We sincerely hope that you will support us in our efforts to seek justice for Herman Whitfield, III by bringing increased attention to IMPD's killing of our son, sharing news of the circumstances surrounding his death far and wide, and publicly standing with us in our demands for 1) transparency from IMPD and 2) the termination, criminal prosecution, and incarceration of all officers involved in the circumstances surrounding the killing of Herman Whitfield, III.
The Whitfield Family
Point of Contact to Support the Family, Organizing & Community Actions:
Point of Contact for Press, Media, Communications & Inquiries:
Israel Nunez Cruz CRUZ LAW FIRM
148 E. Market Street, Suite 501
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
TEL: (317) 423-9668
FAX: (317) 423-9677
Richard A. Waples
WAPLES & HANGER
410 N. Audubon Road
Indianapolis, Indiana 46219
TEL: (317) 357-0903
FAX: (317) 357-0275
Copyright ©2023 Justice for Herman Whitfield III