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Largest Payouts for Police Misconduct Lawsuits in Indiana

By    |   Monday, 10 Aug 2015 11:45 PM

Drunken driving, excessive force and interference with constitutional rights are among reasons public entities have paid settlements related to police misconduct lawsuits in Indiana.

Here are five significant misconduct payout amounts from the Hoosier State.

$1.55 million to the estate of Eric Wells
The city of Indianapolis agreed to pay $1.55 million in 2012 to the estate of Eric Wells to settle a lawsuit after a car driven by Indianapolis police officer David Bisard struck a group of motorcyclists at a stop light in 2010, killing Wells and injuring two other people, according to WRTV. Attorneys for Wells’ estate said the city and the police department were liable because Bisard showed gross negligence in causing Wells’ death, being “intoxicated and driving recklessly at high speed to a non-emergency he was not even dispatched for, while also using his in-vehicle computer for non-police business,” WRTV reported. Bisard was sentenced in 2013 to 16 years in prison – with three years of that suspended – on convictions for crimes related to the case that included reckless homicide, reported WTHR-TV.

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$800,000 to Percy Perry
A federal grand jury awarded $800,000 to Percy Perry from the Gary, Indiana, Police Department regarding a beating that occurred in 2007, according to HSD Legal. The jury concluded Gary police Cpl. Anthony Blood acted with excessive force and caused Perry to lose his eye, HSD Legal said. Perry admitted he’d been committing a crime when he came into contact with Blood but said he was surrendering and posed no immediate threat to the officer.

$200,000 to Willie King
The city of Indianapolis agreed to pay $200,000 to Willie King to settle a lawsuit linked to a situation in which Indianapolis police arrested him in 2011 after he used his cellphone to videotape police handcuffing another man, according to The Indiana Lawyer. King said he felt concerned that officers were physically abusing the man, The Indiana Lawyer reported. After a bench trial in which King was found not guilty of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and public intoxication, he filed a federal civil rights case against the city of Indianapolis and the police officers involved contending police had used excessive force against him and violated his First, Fourth and 14th amendment rights while also making him a victim of false arrest and malicious prosecution, The Indiana Lawyer reported. The city agreed in 2014 to pay King $200,000 and implement a new policy banning police officers from interfering with citizens recording their actions.

$170,000 to four people
The city of Gary agreed to pay $170,000 in 2011 as a settlement to four people who said Gary police illegally searched, assaulted and detained them, according to NWI.com The Times. Victor Adams Jr., Sheila Baker, Melissa Manley and Darren Johnson claimed in the suit that then-Police Chief Thomas Houston, Deputy Police Chief Thomas Branson and Sgt. Thomas Decanter stormed into Baker's home in Gary in 2007 and accused them of burglarizing Houston's residence. The plaintiffs contended Houston beat and choked Adams, punched Manley in her stomach after she said she was pregnant, and threatened to kill Adams and Johnson then denied Manley medical attention despite her having stomach pains and spitting up blood. Houston, Branson and Decanter were subsequently indicted in connection with deprivation of civil rights and other federal charges linked to the incident, NWI.com The Times reported. It said a jury acquitted Branson and Decanter but Houston was convicted on one of the counts and sentenced to federal prison, where he died of prostate cancer.

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$150,000 to the mother of Brandon Johnson
The city of Indianapolis agreed to pay $150,000 in 2013 as a settlement to the mother of Brandon Johnson, a biracial youth who was 15 years old when his beating by Indianapolis police in 2010 sparked racial tensions and a federal lawsuit, according to WTHR-TV. The station reported Johnson suffered a black eye and swollen, bruised face after an altercation with police that began when he tried to incite a crowd as officers attempted to arrest one of his brothers. Police said Johnson tried to resist arrest even after he was handcuffed, the station reported.

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Drunken driving, excessive force and interference with constitutional rights are among reasons public entities have paid settlements related to police misconduct lawsuits in Indiana.
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