Family of black man killed by Indianapolis police sue city

By , on September 22, 2017


INDIANAPOLIS — The family of an unarmed black man fatally shot by Indianapolis police during a traffic stop is suing the city, its police department and two officers, alleging excessive force.

The federal lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that Aaron Bailey’s constitutional rights were violated when the two officers fired on him June 29. It contends that Officers Carlton Howard and Michael Dinnsen used excessive force that was “objectively and subjectively unreasonable” and that Bailey, 45, posed no threat to the officers.

Dinnsen is white and Howard is biracial. Both men were placed on administrative leave after the shooting and now are on administrative duty.

Authorities say Bailey was pulled over for a traffic stop when he suddenly drove off. After a short pursuit, Bailey crashed into a fence and officers approached the vehicle and fired. Police said no gun was found at the scene, but they haven’t described what led up to the shooting.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, states that Howard and Dinnsen fired at least 11 shots at Bailey and four bullets struck him in the back.

The complaint filed on behalf of Bailey’s adult son and daughter and his sister contends that the officers fired their weapons into Bailey’s vehicle “without prior verbal command or warning” after the crash impact deployed its airbags.

At no time after the crash did Bailey try to exit his vehicle, turn to face the officers or try to flee the scene, the suit states, adding that Bailey never “acted in an aggressive manner” toward the two officers.

Donald Morgan, Indianapolis’ chief litigation counsel, said Thursday that the city does not comment on pending litigation.

A message left for Rick Snyder, the president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, was not immediately returned.

A special prosecutor and the FBI are investigating Bailey’s fatal shooting. A judge appointed the special prosecutor Aug. 22 after Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry stepped aside amid calls by several African-American community groups for an outside authority to decide whether the officers should face criminal charges.

The suit alleges that the officers’ actions violated Bailey’s 14th Amendment rights to equal protection and his Fourth Amendment rights protecting citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Bailey family attorney Craig Karpe said in a statement the special prosecutor has kept the family informed on the progress of the investigation. However, he said the family hasn’t received anything about the evidence collected, or his findings.

“The materials we’ve gathered to date show no legal reason or justification for the shooting of Aaron Bailey,” he said.