INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis’ police chief said Thursday that none of the officers involved in the fatal police shootings of two men killed hours apart in separate incidents were equipped with body cameras.
Events surrounding the first shooting were livestreamed on Facebook, leading to protests Wednesday and Thursday.
Chief Randal Taylor of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department also said there was no dash camera video of either the Wednesday evening shooting or one hours later early Thursday.
Taylor promised during a news conference that the department would conduct thorough, transparent investigations into both shootings, as well as a Wednesday traffic crash in which an Indianapolis police officer struck and killed a pregnant woman who was walking on an expressway ramp. He acknowledged that the “tragic" incidents had shaken the public’s trust.
“We recognize and are saddened that this mutual trust, that we so value, has been eroded over the last 24 hours, but I remain steadfast in our commitment to be transparent with our community, not just today but throughout the entire process as we learn more about what happened last night,” Taylor said during a news conference.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said the department had completed a pilot body camera program but had not yet finalized its selection of the cameras the department planned to use for its officers.
The first shooting happened Wednesday evening after a pursuit that began after officers observed someone driving recklessly on Interstate 65, according to police. After supervisors ordered an end to that pursuit because the vehicle was moving close to 90 mph (145 kph), it was later spotted by an officer on a city street before being parked.
The officer left his vehicle and the man ran, Bailey said. He was shot as he and the officer exchanged gunfire, police said. The shooting involved only the man and the officer, both of whom are black.
Investigators said they found a gun near the man. The officer has been placed on administrative leave.
Following the shooting, several community activists and neighborhood organizers converged at the shooting scene to express outrage over a Facebook Live recording circulating on social media that captured part of the pursuit. More than 100 people gathered, with many chanting, “No justice, no peace.” Protesters also gathered Thursday outside the City County Building in downtown Indianapolis.
The video shows a young, shirtless man as he was driving, with a police car apparently following him.
A short time later, the man is laughing and cheering as he thinks he lost the trailing officer. “I’m not going to jail today!” he shouts.
But moments later, the man appears unsure where he has driven and says in the recording, “Please come get me. Please come get me!”
The man then appears to park his car and leave it, followed by inaudible shouting and popping sounds, at which point the man appears to drop his phone or collapse. More popping sounds are heard.
Another version of the video captures a conversation after the shooting in which a male voice says, “I think it’s going to be a closed casket, homie," an apparent reference to a closed casket funeral.
Taylor said Thursday that he was “aware of inappropriate comments made by an IMPD detective that was broadcast live on social media during the incident.” He said that detective was responding to the shooting and was not present when it happened. He called the comments “unacceptable and unbecoming of our police department" and said “immediate disciplinary action" would be pursued against that officer. ”
The second shooting happened about eight hours later, as police investigated a burglary in-progress at an apartment complex. Police said a man armed with a rifle shot at four responding officers as they approached the apartment early Thursday. Officers returned fire, killing him, police said.
Between those two shootings, Officer Jonathon Henderson, a 22-year veteran, struck a pregnant woman with his car while on his way to work. Police said Henderson requested help and rendered first aid to the woman. She was pronounced dead at a hospital. Her fetus also did not survive.
The Greater Indianapolis NAACP said in a statement Thursday that it was monitoring information about both fatal police shootings.
“Our hearts this morning are with the families who lost loved ones during these tragic events. All of us are trying to make a new normal in an un-normal time. Incidents like these do not help restore normalcy to our community," said Chrystal Ratcliffe, the president of the NAACP branch.