“It’s the system:” Families of IMPD victims on Taylor’s resignation

The following statement was initially released during the first part of the Indianapolis Liberation Center’s press conference on the state of policing in the city. Elder Mmoja Ajabu, a community leader with the new police coalition comprised of the families of Gary Harrell, Frederick Davis, and other families of IMPD victims as well as the Party for Socialism and Liberation. It appears in print in full the fIrst time here.

Police Chief Randal Taylor’s transition: Families impacted by police action shootings say “It’s the system”

On December 15, 2023, Fox News reported it received a video from Chief Randal Taylor announcing his transition away from being chief of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. As families that have been impacted by police action shootings, we do not feel that Chief Randal Taylor stepping down will stop citizens from being unnecessarily shot down. The problem with policing on Indianapolis streets is systemic. In 2015 Ballard, a republican, was mayor. Police shot 13 and killed 10. In 2023 police so far have shot 18 and killed 10. Overwhelmingly, the citizens killed were men of African descent. In 2023 all the people killed so far were men of Afrikan descent.

We feel, and the stats show, that the system supports officers shooting first with no concern for the human life being taken from men of Afrikan descent. Each killer officer has a consistent story. He, and we say he because stats show it is white male officers doing the shooting, will invariably say he was in fear for his life and just wanted to make it home to his family, so he shot to kill. Well, we wanted our family members to make it home also.

Gary Harrell’s family wanted him to make it home. He was shot by officer Douglas Correll who already has shown his proclivity to be violent. The city admitted that Correll unnecessarily beat a citizen and settled for over one hundred thousand dollars due to his behavior. Several police officers are still on the police force who have previously been unnecessarily violent with citizens. Why? The officers were not fired nor held criminally accountable by the prosecutor. The police chief is responsible for the behavior of the department’s officers.

However, it is the mayor that is responsible for appointing the police chief. So, the ultimate responsibility of police policing Indy streets rests with the mayor. We have tried to meet with Mayor Joe Hogsett on more than one occasion to voice our concern. He has refused to meet with us. In this system, whoever is police chief, he/she answers to the mayor. It is Joe Hogsett’s job to hold the police chief accountable for how officers police Indy’s streets. In this system, it makes no difference who is police chief if the mayor does not hold the chief accountable. The mayor must do his job if the system is to be humane towards citizens. However, the failing of the system does not stop with Joe Hogsett.

When police are shooting first and asking questions later their behavior is criminal. The mayor has administrative power to demand accountability, but the prosecutor has prosecutorial powers. The prosecutor can deny the freedom of a citizen, to include a police officer. In fact, the prosecutor can cause the system to take a person’s life.

We have steadily gone to Ryan Mears’ office to meet with him about our concern of the unnecessary police killing of loved ones. Mears, like Hogsett, will not meet with us. In fact, when we went to the office, we found the door to be locked. We asked the prosecutor’s personnel who locked the door, and they said the building owner’s security locked the door.

We filed a lawsuit against Market East Portfolio, LLC (MEP) and the building supervisor testified under oath that their security people had keys but did not lock the prosecutor’s door. The court ruled in MEP’s favor. However, we now challenge that. We have subsequently obtained video evidence which shows MEP’s security locking the prosecutor’s door. We have filed for the court to reconsider its ruling. Again, we see the system failing the citizens.

The mayor won’t hold the police chief accountable for police officers unnecessarily shooting and killing men of Afrikan descent. The Prosecutor won’t timely charge this deadly behavior by police officers, if charge the officers at all. Mears has politicized the grand jury process so if officers are charged, and although his office has the authority to unilaterally make that decision, he hides behind the grand jury, gets the officer charged, then puts on a case in front of the trial jury that allows the jury to exonerate the officers.

It is a long-range con game that just happened with Officers Jonathan Horlock and Nathaniel Schauwecker. These officers clearly unnecessarily beat Ivore Westfield and knocked down Rachel Harding and Mears put on a case that the jury said this police behavior was alright. Looks like Mears has Herman Whitfield III’s family on the same procedural track.

The problem with policing Indy’s streets will not change because Taylor is stepping down. The government is no longer by the people, nor for the people. It is a government that preys on the people. Taylor stepping down will not solve this systemic problem. Looks like it is on us.

Featured photo: Protestors march in front of IMPD’s Northwest district building on November 14, 2021, after a grand jury failed to indict the cops that murdered Dreasjon Reed. Credit: Indianapolis Liberator.