A woman sitting on the sidewalk with her hands ziptied behind her back.
(Photo by WISH-TV.)

Lawsuit Filed Against IMPD Officers After Violent Arrest During Downtown Protests

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A federal lawsuit has been filed against four members of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department following the violent arrest of two women last month.

The arrest, which was caught on video by News 8’s Richard Essex, has been seen by millions.

The suit, filed by Marion County residents Ivore Westfield and Rachel Harding, lists three unnamed IMPD officers and an unnamed IMPD sergeant as plaintiffs. Documents filed say IMPD has “declined to provide the names of the officers” and “has not responded to a public records request for the police report.”

The suit list three complaints; two counts of excessive force and one for duty to intervene.

Westfield and Harding were downtown near Washington and Pennsylvania streets on May 31.

At the time, Marion County was under a curfew that began at 8 p.m. According to a police report filed by IMPD that has been seen by News 8, the arrest happened at 9 p.m. The lawsuit states it happened at 8:45 p.m.

According to the lawsuit, Westfield “realized that her ride was not available to transport her home” around curfew time.

Harding, who did not know Westfield prior, agreed to drive her home, according to the suit.

As they were walking to Harding’s vehicle, IMPD officers approached them and said they were under arrest for curfew violations.

The suit says Westfield provided her hands to be arrested but “Sgt. Doe 1 became aggressive with Ms. Westfield and placed his body completely against Ms. Westfield. Sgt. Doe 1 also forced Ms. Westfield’s arms upward behind her back into an unnatural position causing extreme pain.”

The suit says Westfield pulled away from the officer due to the pain.

That’s when the sergeant said “hit her,” leading to Westfield being shot at with pepper ball rounds and struck with batons.

The suit says Harding intended to record the video on her phone. The video shows Harding saying “why her?” repeatedly, then being shoved to the ground by an officer.

Following the arrest, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges.

Plaintiffs are seeking “actual and compensatory damages,” “punitive damages,” “reasonable attorney’s fees, “litigation costs and expenses” and “all other appropriate relief.”

Plaintiffs are also seeking a jury trial.

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