Settlement of federal case requires Indianapolis police to revise procedure

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As part of a settlement to a federal civil rights case, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will be instituting a new policy prohibiting police officers from interfering with civilians who are recording their actions.

The policy change was included in a settlement agreement with Indianapolis resident Willie King who was arrested in February 2011 after he used his cellphone to videotape police officers arresting another man. King was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public intoxication.

Following a bench trial that found him not guilty, King filed a federal civil rights case against the city of Indianapolis and the police officers involved in the incident. The lawsuit, Willie E. King v. The City of Indianapolis, Jonathan M. Lawlis, Robert K. McCauley, Brad Alford, Michael B. Wright and David Miller, 1:11-cv-01727, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.

King claimed the city and the officers violated his First, Fourth and 14th amendment rights. In addition, he asserted the IMPD used excessive force against him and that he was a victim of false arrest and malicious prosecution.
The settlement was reached within weeks of King’s March 10, 2014, trial date. Along with requiring the city to implement a new policy, the settlement also awarded King $200,000 in damages.

“Willie King was wronged when the officers stopped his videotaping and took away his cellphone,” said King’s attorney Richard Waples. “We want to make sure that in the future police officers understand that people have the right to video record their actions.”

Within two months of signing the settlement agreement, the city’s police chief must issue a legal bulletin that explains officers should not interfere with civilians who are observing or recording their actions in public as long as these civilians maintain a safe and reasonable distance from the scene, do not interfere with the officers’ work, and do not pose a danger.

Waples, partner at Waples and Hanger, called the settlement an “important victory” and one that “secures the right of all citizens to observe and record police officers’ public actions.”

King began videotaping the officers during the February incident when he became concerned that they were physically abusing the young man they were handcuffing. He retrieved his cellphone from his vehicle and began digitally recording the incident. He first walked to his neighbor’s property, then proceeded to the neighbor’s front porch.

A police officer walked over to King and ordered him to handover his phone. When King did not, the officer grabbed King, tackled him to the ground and, with the help of another officer, confiscated King’s cellphone and arrested him.

King alleged his First Amendment right to observe and record the actions of government officials in public was violated when the police interfered with his videotaping. Also, he claimed his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure was violated when police threw him to the ground injuring his shoulder and forcefully confiscating his cellphone.


  • police misconduct, omissions & refusal to investigate
    8/11/15 i've reported damage to property & officer took report. i had two witnesses. reported that neighbors have been slandering my name, reputation by inciting, promoting, fear hatred toward & against me which is also a hate crime. the officers omit many details from the public record. a detective refuses to investigate or question witnesses. and i had neighbors twice threaten to shoot me & my dog when the threat, intimidation & harassment wasn't warranted. they do indeed own guns but the police won't confiscate them or charge them with a crime. nothing is being done to protect me and the police use such terms/words that make me out to be the villian while others are exonerated of blame!!! police won't provide me with the interact police reports nor will they allow me copies of the emergency calls or my voicemail messages to the district i made updating the violence & disorderly conduct inflicted upon me by another. the reports are void of the truth!!!!!
  • good for them bad for us.
    Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.
  • man in a cop costume
    the only way for justice to prevail is to hold the man in the cop costume accountable in his individual capacity by claiming theft,assault and kidnapping. This is aside from the false arrest and malicious prosecution. File a claim in common law jurisdiction for damage and injury by the man who committed the acts of violence on you.
  • Right on
    You hit it on the head, Jack! The city has not admitted guilt, and this does not create binding precedent for any other city or police force in the country--they may continue to be abusive and get away with it until a higher court rules on a civil rights case making it law.
  • No Police
    Next time you Police Haters need help call a thug. Oh..the thug might already be there.
  • Should be fired
    The police officers who arrested King need to be removed from the police force.
  • The cops lose the recording
    The cops lose the video when it shows them to be at fault. It haened to me in Winfield, IL. The recording showed the cop was asleep in his car in the middle of the intersection. It never made it to court, and the Judge didn't give a rats ass.
  • Legal Bulletins Are Worthless
    Given experience in Florida recently. Now if it was a departmental order with declaration of disciplinary action, I might be more comfortable.
  • Police and cameras
    The police should be required to wear cameras at all times so that all of their actions are recorded. The reality is a significant % of police have gotten out of control, who believe themselves to be above the law. One of the few ways citizens can defend themselves is to make it mandatory that all police officers on duty wear cameras at all times.
    • No Police
      Who would the Legal Community sue if it weren't for the Police Community? Would we even need the Legal Community or the Criminal Justice System without Police? What a cost saving endeavor.
    • No Police
      We should stop hiring police officers and abolish any standing department. I'm positive this action will stop all of these abuses of power. I suppose society will love each other.
    • Free to be a jerk
      Police officers are never held accountable BY THEIR DEPARTMENT for violating the rights of civilians. The city settles and to show the officer was "falsely" accused it goes on to promote the officer. The promotion send a message that "we'd like more thuggery."
    • Yes
      He most certainly got off with the settlement. When a town, county, state, etc. settles they don't admin wrongdoing. The city's insurance will pay the settlement and the taxpayers are on the hook for both the insurance premiums and this thug of a cop's salary. He is most certainly still out and about violating people's rights. Rest assured, nobody was held accountable for this in any way, shape, or form. The city basically just says "well, we'll send out a memo to the police not to assault you and violate your rights"
      • Violations
        As a result of the settlement, did the officer's get off the hook for violating his rights? That would be a pity.

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        1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

        2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

        3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

        4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

        5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.