Indianapolis Failed to Review 19 Police Shootings

Past and current police chiefs have no explanation why the city’s police department did not conduct formal reviews in many incidents, including at least six fatal shootings. In one of them, an officer opened fire into a moving car, killing a man in the passenger seat.

The Indianapolis Police Department is supposed to conduct a review every time an officer shoots at somebody. In 19 incidents over two years, including in at least six fatal shootings, that never happened, the Indianapolis Star reports. It didn’t happen when a reserve officer fired upon an escaped inmate outside of a school while children were nearby or when an officer opened fire into a moving car, killing a man sitting in the passenger seat. No one in the department’s leadership seems to know why these particular 19 shootings were never reviewed. A few others were reviewed at the time.

All of the shootings, which happened in 2015 and 2016, were investigated by criminal detectives when necessary to ensure no crimes were committed, the department says. The cases lacked a crucial step of oversight: the convening of a firearms review board, comprised of three commanders and two other officers. Policy requires the boards to look through both criminal and internal investigations before delivering a report to the chief, who should use the report to determine whether an officer’s use of force meets department standards. Falling short of those standards can result in a firing or other discipline. The failure to do reviews is “unacceptable. There needs to be a full accounting of why this happened, how this happened, and how you’re going to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” said Marshawn Wolley of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who also is involved with the Indianapolis Urban League. Three police chiefs, past and present, had no answer for the lack of reviews.