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Hogsett, IMPD pursuing reforms

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Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Chief Randal Taylor held a press conference May 12 to discuss police reforms after IMPD officers were involved in three fatal incidents last week. The pair did not provide an update on the investigations of those deaths.

IMPD plans to start using body and dashboard cameras this summer and is creating a new board to ensure officers follow guidelines created by the Police Merit Board.

“Every resident of Indianapolis should feel they can depend on our police to protect and serve residents equally under the law,” Hogsett said. “And our commitment to accountability and transparency will protect good policing as much as it helps uncover abuses should they occur.”

On May 6, 21-year-old Sean Reed was killed by an unidentified IMPD officer following a car chase on the city’s northwest side. According to police, Reed was armed at the time of the incident and his weapon was reportedly fired. After being tased, which IMPD Deputy Chief Chris Bailey said was ineffective, Reed was shot at over a dozen times and was pronounced dead at the scene. The officer involved is on administrative leave, and the incident was streamed live — by Reed — on Facebook. The Marion County prosecutor’s office is currently investigating this incident.

Just six hours later, at 1:30 a.m. May 7, McHale Rose, 19, was shot and killed by four IMPD officers after opening fire at Dogwood Glen apartments. Rose was identifiedby Vop Osili, president of the city-county council, during the May 12 press conference. Officers were responding to a burglary-in-progress, which IMPD now believes was called in by Rose to ambush them.

“It appears that it could have been an ambush situation on the officers,” Taylor said during a May 7 press conference. “The man initiated the call … and may have intended to initiate an ambush-style attack on the officers when they arrived.”

All four officers returned fire and hit Rose, who died at the scene.

At roughly 9:45 a.m. May 7, IMPD Officer Jonathon Henderson struck and killed Ashlynn Lisby near South Harding Street and the eastbound ramp of I-465. Lisby, who has been identified only through social media at the time of publication, was pregnant with her third child. She was allegedly walking down an unlit street in dark clothing when she was struck. She and her unborn child were pronounced dead at Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital. 

None of the officers involved in last week’s incidents were wearing body cameras or using dashboard cameras. 

According to both Hogsett and Taylor, however, all IMPD officers will have body cameras and dashboard cameras installed by the end of the summer, five years after a pilot program failed to result in the development of a permanent program. 

Taylor, who became chief of police in December 2019, said the initial pilot program failed, in part, due to insufficient technology. Since then, he said the city has invested millions of dollars in upgrading public safety technology infrastructure, and the cost of body cameras has decreased. After a second pilot program in 2019, Hogsett said the city-county council approved a request in the 2020 budget to implement a permanent body camera program this year, making it the first time all IMPD officers will have access to body and dashboard cameras. The cameras will have automatic recording triggers so officers won’t have to manually turn cameras on and off. 

The program, which is set to start in July, will be fully implemented by September, Taylor said.

The mayor also will establish a Use of Force Review Board for IMPD officers, including physical altercations and the use of a taser or a firearm. Made up of merit-ranked officers as well as civilians appointed by Taylor, Hogsett, Osili and IMPD members, the board will determine whether or not an officer’s actions were within the department’s protocol. The board will not determine disciplinary action. 

All six officers involved in the two shootings are on administrative leave pending investigation, and Taylor said he will wait until the investigations are finished to determine whether or not officers were justified in using deadly force.

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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