NewsPublic Affairs / September 24, 2015

New Book Marks Anniversary of Michael Taylor's Suspicious Death

More than a quarter century after the controversial death of a black Indianapolis teenager in police custody, a new book about the incident has been released.Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Michael Taylor2015-09-24T00:00:00-04:00
New Book Marks Anniversary of Michael Taylor's Suspicious Death

Muhammad Siddeeq, author of a book on the death of Michael Taylor in 1987.

Ryan Delaney/WFYI

More than a quarter century after the controversial death of a black Indianapolis teenager in police custody, a new book about the incident has been released.

Taylor was 16 in 1987, arrested again for auto theft. But while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser, he was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. Police say he was able to reach a handgun hidden in his sneaker and shoot himself.

An FBI investigation backed up the police department's account. But a jury years later ruled in favor of the Taylor family in a civil lawsuit and awarded the family money.

Now, as the death of black men in the presence of police is a national issue, activist Muhammad Siddeeq has published a book about Taylor’s death, which he says was the doing of police officers.

"This city has gone beyond your wildest imagination to cover this thing up," he said Thursday.

Siddeeq’s book, titled "Black Lives Didn't Matter: When Indianapolis Police Murdered Michael Taylor and Lied," is more than 600 pages long. Siddeeq based he book largely on police records and media reports from the time.

Indianapolis police chief Rick Hite says the city’s police department is “lightyears” ahead of where it was in 1987. "I think we’ve learned, if nothing else, that trauma and reoccurring trauma is important to talk about," Hite told WFYI.

Siddeeq agrees there have been positives within the police department, but that doesn’t answer the question of who killed Taylor. Hite says it’s important to learn from events like Taylor’s death, but he is hesitant about what he calls opening old wounds.

"The question is, do you remember the event and what was the aftermath?" Hite said. "And what did we learn from it, and what's changed?"

 

 

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