JUSTICE FOR PIANIST HERMAN WHITFIELD III
In April 2022, Herman Whitfield III was having a mental crisis and his mother called 911 for an ambulance to help him. Instead, six IMPD police officers showed up and, without any provocation or threat, brutally electrocuted and suffocated Herman for five minutes in front of his parents in their living room. After killing Herman, police grabbed and bruised his mother's arm and chased his parents as they escaped their home to go to the hospital with their son. None of the six officers have been fired or arrested.
I'm a close friend of the Whitfield family and I started the Justice for Herman III Campaign to support Herman's parents and coordinate grassroots efforts to demand justice for Herman and his parents. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept ("IMPD") has one of the worst records for human rights violations in the United States. So, we know that this will be a long campaign and we need your financial support to cover our volunteers out of pocket expenses to do the following:
1) Provide wellness and crisis resources for the community;
2) Recruit, train and prepare community members to volunteer;
3) Promote and conduct community outreach and engagement meetings;
4) Plan and organize public concerts, events, and demonstrations in April 2023 and beyond until justice is served;
5) Develop and produce our own media coverage to communicate directly with the community;
6) Develop and demand reforms to get some semblance of justice for Herman III, his parents, and the community.
All funds are collected in and spent from a separate bank account exclusively for the campaign - funds are not commingled. Account statements are provided to the Whitfield family.
Please support our efforts to get justice for Herman III, his parents, and the Indianapolis community!
In life, Herman Whitfield III was a child prodigy gifted in music. During his college years, he earned degrees in Composition, Piano Performance, and Political Science. In sharing his gifts with the world, he became an award-winning and incomparable pianist and composer. By all accounts, Herman was a brilliant and gentle man and a kind and generous friend.
On April 25, 2022, Herman III was experiencing a mental health crisis at his home when his mother, Gladys Whitfield, called 9-1-1 to request emergency services to assist him. Instead of an ambulance, a total of six IMPD officers arrived and, without any provocation or threat, electrocuted and suffocated Herman III in his living room in front of his parents. After killing Herman, police started a warrantless search of the Whitfield home, grabbed and bruised Mrs. Whitfield's arm, and chased Mr. and Mrs. Whitfield as they escaped their home to go with Herman III to the hospital. In the summer of 2022, the county coroner determined that Herman’s death was a homicide and the official cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest in the setting of law enforcement subdual, prone restraint, and conducted electrical weapon use.
DEMAND #1 - RELEASE THE COMPLETE BODY CAM FOOTAGE - SATISFIED
When news broke of Herman III’s death, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) initially claimed that Herman charged at an officer in the moments before IMPD killed him, but the department would not release the body camera footage to the public. In response, Herman III’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit that offered facts from their eyewitness accounts of how the officers killed their son. For two months, IMPD refused the family and the media’s request to release the body camera footage from the six officers who killed Herman. Then, in June 2022, IMPD released a biased, heavily edited, and narrated compilation of the footage. Thereafter, Herman III’s parents released a Public Statement describing the brutality that they witnessed and endured when IMPD killed their son and, again, demanded the release of the complete and unedited body camera footage.
IMPD continued to ignore calls for the complete footage through the end of the year. As part of a wrongful death case, the family’s attorneys asked a federal court to order the City to release the footage. The City and IMPD fought against the release of the footage - arguing that the footage would bias potential jurors in the criminal proceedings. The federal court ultimately ordered the City to release complete footage by early January 2023. After their attorneys received the footage, the Whitfield family directed their attorneys to release the complete and unedited body camera footage to the public.
BREAKDOWN OF THE NEWLY RELEASED BODY CAMERA FOOTAGE
The Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign continues to review the brutal homicide of Herman shown in the complete body camera footage. But, the Campaign wants the public to know that the following is shown in the Newly Released Body Camera Footage:
- HERMAN'S FATHER TOLD ARRIVING OFFICERS THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE SENT AN AMBULANCE
- HERMAN'S MOTHER ASKED AN OFFICER, “THEY'RE NOT GOING TO KILL HIM ARE THEY?”
- HERMAN WAS NEVER A DANGER TO ANYONE & HE RAN AWAY FROM OFFICERS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE ENCOUNTER
- OFFICERS PLANNED TO ELECTROCUTE HERMAN WITH THE TASER
- OFFICERS TACKLED HERMAN & PUSHED HIS FACE INTO THE FLOOR & IGNORED HIS CRIES THAT HE COULDN'T BREATHE
- OFFICERS REFUSED TO REPOSITION HERMAN AS THEY SUFFOCATED HIM IN THE PRONE POSITION
- AS HERMAN BECAME NON-RESPONSIVE, AN OFFICER TOLD HIS PARENTS THAT HE WAS OKAY
- PARAMEDICS WASTED TIME TALKING TO HERMAN, WHO WAS FACE DOWN & NON-RESPONSIVE, BEFORE CHECKING HIS PULSE & ROLLING HIM OVER
- OFFICERS SUFFOCATED HERMAN FOR MORE THAN 5 MINUTES BEFORE ANYONE BEGAN CPR
In a Press Release, the family’s attorneys explained that the “video counters IMPD's CIV, which inaccurately stated that Herman was dangerous, was throwing things, and rushed an officer. The body cam videos conclusively show that Herman was vulnerable, unarmed, naked, undergoing a mental health crisis, and never threatened the officers either verbally or physically. Rather than rushing towards an officer, the videos show that Herman was attempting to avoid them, even immediately before he was shot with the taser.”
DEMAND #2 - FIRE THE SIX OFFICERS WHO KILLED HERMAN III
On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Justice for Herman III Campaign ("J4H3") organized and held a Rally in Indianapolis to publicly demand the termination of the six officers who killed Herman. The Whitfield family, their attorneys, the media, and supportive individuals and organizations attended the rally. Approximately 70 community members and media braved the winter cold and rain to demand justice for Herman, his family, and the Indianapolis community.
“Fire every officer. We're not waiting on the prosecutor's office. We're not waiting on that process,” said Dea Lott, J4H3 campaign coordinator. “Take them off the street now. The community is concerned; the community is scared. The new video footage shows that IMPD violated their own policies and procedures, there’s no reason to wait.”
In a statement, read by Lott, the Whitfield family acknowledged that the homicide of their son is part of the historic and persistent epidemic of police violence in this country. Several offered statements of commitment and solidarity with the Whitfield family and the campaign’s demands. In closing, participants walked around the Indianapolis Monument Circle four times to represent each decade of the life that Herman III should be celebrating today.
The Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign is not waiting for the criminal process to unfold! The officers need to be fired, arrested, and off the streets now! The campaign is planning additional actions in February and March and a protest in April, pressing forward with its current demands, and will outline additional demands soon. For this, the Campaign needs you to stand with us!
STAND WITH US IN ONE OF 5 WAYS:
1) DONATE to this GOFUNDME
2) SHARE THIS GOFUNDME to bring awareness to this cause in your circles around the country and pressure local leaders to take action
4) LEARN MORE at the J4H3's Website
5) SIGN UP to volunteer at J4H3's Website
The Justice for Herman III Campaign consists of many individuals who knew and cared for Herman III, numerous Indianapolis activists, and grassroots and faith-based organizations. The campaign is grateful to all the many other individuals and organizations who support the campaign’s efforts and the media outlets who have attended the campaign's events and reported unbiased news about Herman Whitfield III.
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