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. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

        2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

        3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

        4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

        5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.