Man details alleged 2018 assault by Marion County Sheriff’s deputies

At 12:30 pm on Thursday, December 21, 2023, the Indianapolis Liberation Center held a press conference. Among those present were representatives from the Center, Elder Mmoja Ajabu, and Mr. Taylor Bey, the victim for whom the press conference was being held.

The press conference began with a statement from Elder Ajabu, a religious leader who has been working with the Davis and Harrell families and others who have lost loved ones to IMPD officers’ use of force. Ajabu described the work he has been doing with the families and the coalition they’ve formed, including the roadblocks they’ve encountered attempting to schedule a meeting with both Prosecutor Ryan Mears and Mayor Joe Hogsett. In his statement, Elder Ajabu, a Vietnam War veteran, built a comparison between his time fighting in Vietnam and living in Indianapolis under IMPD’s jurisdiction, metaphorizing Indy to be a “combat zone.” Responding to this, Gabriela Benitez, a Liberation Center volunteer, emoted, “Hearing Elder’s story was heartbreaking, and shows the reality of the IMPD.”

Following Elder Ajabu’s statement, Dr. Derek R. Ford, an organizer with the Indianapolis Liberation Center, and associate professor at DePauw University, spoke on Mr. Taylor Bey’s experience with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Due to ongoing legal proceedings, Taylor Bey is not able to personally share his story at this time. In brief, Dr. Ford reviewed the events of July 6th, 2018. According to Ford’s statement, Taylor Bey was allegedly assaulted by multiple Sheriff’s Deputies after he reached for his identification to comply with the deputies’ request–a request Dr. Ford described as, “an impossible request for Black people to fulfill as it serves as an excuse (for officers) to claim fear for safety.” Mr. Bey was requested to present ID after he dozed off following a meal at Eskenazi Hospital and a long day of physical labor. Mr. Bey has been diagnosed with “permanent nerve damage, i.e., neuropathy” following this alleged misconduct.

Stephen Lane, a librarian and member of the Indianapolis Liberation Center, made the third statement of the afternoon. Mr. Lane spoke about the coalition composed of the Indianapolis families whose relatives have been shot by IMPD officers, religious and community leaders, and now Taylor Bey. Mr. Lane then summarized all of the ways that this coalition has attempted to get justice through the criminal justice system. Seemingly frustrated, Lane shared, “We (the coalition) are exhausting all of the polite ways we know to get justice for these families.” He described political inaction as being a major roadblock to obtaining this justice. Lane concluded his speech by reaching out to others who have experienced perceived state violence: “if you are out there watching this and have had an encounter with IMPD that was unfavorable and abusive, we would like to know about it, and just know that we are on your side. Call or email, get in contact with the Indianapolis Liberation Center.”

During the Q&A following Lane’s closing statement, Taylor Bey offered to those in attendance that he could not describe how he feels about what happened to him other than “completely devastated.” Ianna Brooks, a concerned community member states that they, “could feel the emotion and drainage in Taylor’s voice.” 
During the press conference, the families of Gary Harrell, Frederick Davis, and other families that are a part of the aforementioned coalition released a statement on IMPD Chief Randal Taylor stepping down. It is available to the public here.

Featured photo: Stephen Lane speaks at the December 21, 2023 press conference concerning Taylor Bey, the alleged victim of assault by deputies of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Credit: Indianapolis Liberator