A federal judge has ruled in favor of Indianapolis police in a lawsuit that accused officers of excessive force in a black teenager’s fatal shooting following a suspected armed carjacking.
Andre Green’s family sued the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in August 2017, claiming three officers used excessive force and violated the 15-year-old’s constitutional rights when they shot and killed him in August 2015.
Several officers had been following a stolen Nissan Altima driven by Green after learning about a reported armed carjacking where a suspect had fired four shots at a group of people.
Police said the officers shot Green after he drove the Altima into one patrol car, backed into another and then began accelerating into the first patrol car a second time along a dead-end street that police had blocked.
Green’s family said the teen slowly drove the stolen car into one of the patrol cars, striking it once before three officers opened fire on the moving vehicle.
The officer fired 20 shots and said later that they feared Green would ram one of the officers. Police said a handgun was found at the scene.
The city’s attorneys asked the court to grant summary judgment, arguing that the officers were shielded under a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity that typically protects police officers acting in their official capacities from such lawsuits.
Indiana Southern District Court Judge J.P. Hanlon ruled in favor of the city and the officers Nov. 13, ending the lawsuit prior to trial, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Hanlon’s order said Green’s family failed to prove the officers were not acting reasonably when they used force.
“Mr. Green was suspected of having committed an armed carjacking with shots fired. And once blockaded on a dead-end street, he tried to escape instead of stopping the Nissan or surrendering to officers,” the judge wrote in his order. “Based on these facts, the officers reasonably recognized that Mr. Green presented serious danger.”
Trent A. McCain, a lawyer for Green’s family, said they will decide in the coming weeks whether to pursue an appeal.
John Kautzman, an attorney representing the officers, said “there are no winners when an officer is forced to use deadly force.” He said the defendants “appreciate the court’s careful analysis and its conclusion that the officers acted reasonably based upon the circumstances.”
Indianapolis police Chief Bryan Roach deferred any comment to city attorneys. A message seeking comment was left Wednesday for city attorney Andrew Upchurch.