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  • Citizen’s request free access to body-camera footage at city council.

    – Keri Yousif

    Matt Larimer* addressed the Terre Haute City Council on Thursday, February 2, 2023, asking the city to reduce or eliminate the fee for body camera footage “from police officers involving uses of force.”

    Mr. Larimer explained that under the current city policy, which charges $150 per video, an individual making a request for footage from three officers involved in the same incident would be required to pay $450.00 for the videos from the single incident.

    He also stated that when someone’s mug shot circulates, via the press and/or social media, and the individual appears to have suffered injuries, rumors circulate speculating on what may or may not have happened during the incident.

    “I think,” said Larimer, “that making this body cam footage more accessible will help to eliminate those rumors; it will help to keep police accountable, but it will also help police when they’ve done the right thing, and then it is shown that it’s the right thing.”

    Currently Indianapolis charges $50 for a video under 30 minutes, $100 for a video from 30-60 minutes, and $150 for a video over 60 minutes. Under current state regulations, the maximum amount a city is allowed to charge for a body cam video is $150.

    As Larimer notes, Terre Haute currently charges the maximum allowed for each video, regardless of length. Larimer asked that Terre Haute be a “leader in the state” by giving free access to body camera footage in incidents where there is a use of force, the goal being to provide accountability and to build trust in the community. 

    The City Attorney, Eddie Felling responded to Mr. Larimer’s request making several points, namely citing the number of videos and the time and labor involved in reviewing those videos before they can be released.

    Felling stated that in 2022, there was a total of 413 incidents of use of force in Terre Haute, with a total of 728 officers involved in those 413 incidents. For each officer, there is the possibility of a body cam, a dash cam and/or an in-car or rear-view camera, all of which multiplies the number of possible videos per incident.

    Mr. Felling went on to note that each video must be manually reviewed and possibly redacted before release so that no protected or confidential information is released, such as individual health information, license plate numbers, the inside of an individual’s home, or the presence of a minor.

    He also cited an example in which one incident included three dash cam videos and one body cam video, totaling 11 hours and 40 minutes of video time, for which the city collected $450 for the video request.

    Felling estimated, however, that the paralegal who reviewed and redacted the videos before release spent over 41 hours completing the work, costing the city $1,500.

    He cited proposed Indiana House Bill 1142, which would revise the current limits on charges for body cam footage by allowing state and local agencies to include labor costs incurred to obscure non-disclosable information in the recording and perform an administrative review of the recording.

    “I understand,” Mr. Felling concluded, “why someone would ask for this, but please keep in mind that we make these videos available, and what we charge is nothing compared to what we put into it.” 

    Councilperson Martha Crossen asked Mr. Felling how many requests for body camera footage the city typically receives. Felling did not have that information available but said he would provide the council with the requested information.

    Councilperson Crossen noted that “One of the major reasons for us investing in body cams was to have this information available precisely for the reasons Mr. Larimer designated, which are to both protect the public and to protect the force, our police officers from false claims. . . . obviously, it’s a balance . . . but certainly, it’s worth reviewing.”

    Terre Haute resident Ralph Leck also spoke to the issue, asking the city council to “take Mr. Larimer’s request seriously.” In Mr. Leck’s words:  “Why do we have these videos if we can’t gain access to them?”

    Mr. Leck noted that the number of incidents with use of force—cited as 413 incidents in 2022 by Mr. Felling—is a number that serves as an “economic barrier” to access body cam footage:  a large number of incidents equals a large number of body cam videos, which results in a burden on the city to review and redact the videos, culminating with increased costs for the city.

    But, Mr. Leck argued, the high number of incidents with use of force is also the very same reason why the public should have access to the body cam footage. As Mr. Leck concluded, “if it’s 400 [incidents with use of force], we’ve got a problem; we’ve got more than one a day.” 

    * Disclosure:  Matt Larimer is an editor and writer for Vice News Terre Haute

    You can fact check this article and find out more at the sources listed below:

    YouTube recording, Terre Haute City Council Meeting, 2/2/23https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_Eb0fZDHNw 

    City of Terre Haute Office of Public Informationhttps://www.terrehaute.in.gov/departments/pd/office-of-public-information.html 

    State-regulated cost of body cam footage:  see Indiana legislation, Second Regular Session of the 119th General Assembly, 2016, page 21, g1 “the agency’s direct cost of supplying the information in that form. However, the fee for a copy of a law enforcement recording may not exceed one hundred fifty dollars ($150).”  https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2016/bills/house/1019#document-3df25085 

    Proposed House Bill 1142:  https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2023/bills/house/1142 

  • Indy police spending millions in overtime to patrol violent bars and clubs.

    Violence continues to plague bars and clubs in Indianapolis, despite aggressive policing by the city. An investigation by IndyStar and Fox59 found that the state’s inadequate regulation, poor oversight, and lax enforcement has allowed violence to persist at these establishments.

    On May 23, 2021, Joseph Ajiboye visited Club Kalakutah in Indianapolis for a night out, only to end up being rushed to the hospital with a bullet wound in his leg. The incident marked the fifth time in over a year that shots were fired at the Lafayette Square-area club, one of many establishments in the city plagued by violence.

    According to police, this time the shooter was one of the club’s unlicensed and heavily armed security guards, who fled the scene after the shooting. When officers arrived, the club locked its doors and refused to cooperate with the authorities.

    This disturbing incident is just one example of the rampant violence that has plagued Indianapolis bars, nightclubs, and event centers in recent years. According to an investigation by IndyStar, there have been over 600 reports of violent acts tied to such establishments.

    Despite repeated warnings from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), Club Kalakutah was allowed to continue operating, despite its lengthy history of problems. IMPD has reported unlicensed boxing matches, illegal strip shows, and several assaults at the club.

    Despite frequent visits from the police, IMPD has claimed that it is powerless to shut down the club, as it is prohibited by state law from regulating alcohol businesses. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated issue in Indianapolis.

    The state’s Alcohol & Tobacco Commission, which has the authority to regulate alcohol businesses, is a small agency with just 73 excise officers to monitor over 15,000 bars, restaurants, and stores that sell alcohol, and rarely intervenes when violence erupts.

    The state has also reduced the number of violations issued to businesses and underage drinking checks by 80% since 2014, and the nuisance bar program created in 2019 has proven to be largely ineffective.

    Unlike neighboring states, Indiana law prohibits cities from using nuisance ordinances to regulate alcohol establishments, leaving local police powerless to deal with the violence.

    The investigation by IndyStar and Fox59 found that the inadequate regulation, poor oversight, and lax enforcement by the state has created a culture of impunity in many Indianapolis bars and clubs, with shootings, drugs, and sexual assaults becoming all too common.

    IMPD’s Assistant Chief Chris Bailey expressed frustration at the lack of local authority over these establishments, saying, “It’s frustrating to us that we have very little local authority and local controls over those establishments that serve alcohol.”

    The problem is being exacerbated by the fact that bar owners and their attorneys are aware of the limits imposed by state law, making it difficult for the police to take any meaningful action.

    The problems faced by Indianapolis bars and clubs are also spilling over into nearby businesses and neighborhoods, putting innocent people at risk, driving down property values, and putting a strain on police resources.

    Despite repeated requests for comment, the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission declined to be interviewed for the investigation. In a statement, the commission claimed that “public safety and security at bars and other establishments” are of the utmost importance, and that it receives routine updates from local law enforcement.

    However, the findings of the investigation suggest that much more needs to be done to address the rampant violence plaguing Indianapolis bars and clubs and ensure the safety of the public.

    – This article was written with the assistance of ChatGPT

  • Report shows thirty percent increase in Terre Haute Police Department’s use of force.

    According to a report released by the Terre Haute Police Department, incidents involving uses of force rose from 316 in 2021 to 413 in 2022, approximately a thirty percent increase.

    Also included in the report were the total number of calls for service (45,638), the number of times tasers were used (138), K-9s were deployed (18), and firearms were drawn (158).

    When the data was broken down by race it showed that of the 413 use of force incidents 328 involved white residents, 100 black, 4 hispanic, and 0 “other.” The report can be read in it’s entirety here.

    Reflecting on the racial data was the following quote, “There was not a correlation…demonstrating excessive force…toward one specific demographic over another.” It is unclear, however, what metric was used to make this determination.

    Several THPD officers are currently defendants in a civil lawsuit, claiming racial bias, filed by Jeremy Ross with the US District Court of Southern Indiana. Ross is claiming officers used excessive force during his arrest in March of 2020.

    In documents filed with the court Ross writes, “…officers shot me six times…they drug me from the vehicle, they tazed me and choked me until I was unconcious…” Ross is asking that disciplinary action be taken against the officers, and $4 million in damages.

    Counsel for the officers filed a motion for summary judgement on December 22nd, 2022, and magistrate judge Kendra Klump granted an extension for the attorney’s representing Ross to respond by February 6th, 2023.

  • Documentary released bringing attention to “torture” in Harrison County jail.

    Warning: Extremely Graphic Content

    Findings from Indianapolis Star investigative reporters has been used to create a short documentary film titled, “Safe Place,” which focuses on the 2018 death of Jerod Draper in the Harrison County jail.

    Video footage from the facility’s security system shows jailers strapping Draper naked to a restraint chair, and then choking and tasing him repeatedly while he was unable to move.

    Draper informed jail staff that he had used drugs the night of his arrest and according to medical examiner Bill Smock died due to lack of appropriate medical treatment for methamphetamine toxicity.

    In response to the video Dr Smock said, “what I saw was a corrections nurse…torturing an inmate.” Jail commander Dustin Cundall claimed the pain compliance techniques used were justified.

    Harrison County settled a lawsuit for $1 million dollars with the family of Jerod Draper, whose teenage daughter received the money, but even after video evidence was provided to the FBI no criminal charges have been filed.

    According to the Indy Star’s investigative series “Death Sentence” they identified, “more than 300 deaths since 2010. All told, the toll amounted to the death of a prisoner every two weeks for more than 11 years.”

    Questions still remain about the treatment of Danny Hicks and Adam Bryant in the Vigo County jail last year. Terre Haute Vice News has filed public records requests with the Indiana State Police for the investigations into their deaths.

  • Brutal body camera footage released of Memphis police beating Tyre Nichols.

    Warning Extremely Graphic Content:

    Please consider signing this petition asking local law enforcement to immediately release body camera footage, free of charge, for any incident involving a use of force.

  • National Guard troops activated in Atlanta after Governor declares state of emergency.

    Photo posted on Georgia Law Enforcement Facebook page

    Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has announced a state of emergency and activated 1,000 National Guard troops in response to the ongoing violent protests in downtown Atlanta.

    The decision follows a shooting that occurred near a future law enforcement training site where a Georgia state trooper was injured and a man was killed. The state of emergency will remain in effect until February 9th, unless renewed by the governor.

    The protests, which have been ongoing for months, are centered around the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, nicknamed “Cop City”.

    On January 18th, a Florida State University student named Paez Teran was shot and killed by law enforcement after authorities claim he shot and wounded a state trooper during a planned operation to remove protestors from the area.

    In the following days, six individuals were arrested in connection with protests at “Cop City” that led to property damage, including the burning of a police vehicle. Some of the arrested protestors were found with explosives, according to Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.

    The state of emergency declaration authorizes the Georgia National Guard to be used in response to continued protests and gives the activated troops the power of arrest and apprehension, similar to that of law enforcement officers.

    Governor Kemp stated “Georgians respect peaceful protests, but do not tolerate acts of violence against persons or property.”

    This article was written with the assistance of ChatGPT

  • Judge throws out child molestation case due to Hamilton County Prosecutor’s mistakes.

    According to the Indy Star, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office was found to have mishandled a case against a man named Gregory Whitmore, who was accused of child molestation by his former stepchild. The allegations were first presented to authorities in 2018, when the minor was 14 years old.

    Despite multiple requests, the prosecution failed to provide over 10 terabytes of digital data from electronic devices associated with both Whitmore and the teenager. This data was believed to contain alibi information supporting Whitmore’s claim of innocence.

    The case reached a premature end in June, when a judge discharged Whitmore and ordered the prosecution to pay more than $100,000 of his legal fees.

    The judge, William J. Hughes, wrote in a December order that the delays were “so egregious and so extensive” that they infringed on Whitmore’s constitutional right to fair treatment in the judicial system.

    He cited multiple false representations made by prosecutors to the court and Whitmore’s legal team, stating that all evidence had been produced.

    The judge also noted that the blame for the mishandling of the case primarily lies with the former head of the prosecution office, Lee Buckingham, and not his deputies.

    He called it “gross negligence” for Buckingham not to inquire more deeply with Fishers police, and not to have a policy in place to ensure that deputy prosecutors identified and handed over evidence favorable to the defendant.

    The judge also warned that these types of critical evidence delays may not be isolated to the Whitmore case. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office has since appealed the court’s decision.

    It is important to note that the judge did not find that prosecutors were intentionally trying to conceal evidence. Also, the teen’s mother said in a statement that the missteps that unraveled the case amounted to an “utter failure” on the part of authorities.

  • 2023 Terre Haute Municipal Elections: Mayoral Campaign Contributions

    [This article was inspired by the work of Dave Askins, lead writer at the B Square Bulletin, in Bloomington, Indiana]

    January 18th was the deadline for candidates to submit 2022 year end campaign contribution reports. A list of these reports and candidates who failed to submit by the deadline can be found on the Vigo County Clerk’s website.

    According to Duke Bennett’s CFA he started 2022 with $121,059 and added $58,257, after subtracting expenditures he is starting the 2023 pre-election campaign season with $167, 433 cash on hand and investments.

    As of January 23rd Duke Bennett and Pat Goodwin were the only two individuals to have filed as candidates in the 2023 race for mayor, and Goodwin does not have a CFA posted on the county website.

    Several contributors to Bennett’s campaign also contributed to his 2019 race for mayor including Terry Baker, president of HWC Engineering, who contributed $3,000 to Bennett on September 12th of last year.

    Other large donations were made by Sanjay Patel, president of MHG Hotels, donating $1,500, and Kenneth DePasse, president of Republic Services, donating $1,000.

    Pictured below are the locations of individual contributions made to Bennett and Goodwin’s campaigns. Over 70% of donations made to Goodwin’s campaign came from donors with a Terre Haute address compared to

    Of those individual donations to Bennett’s campaign the amount that were $250 or less made up less than 1% of his total amount raised during 2019. The same category amounted to over 12% of the total funds raised by Goodwin.

    The charts pictured below show the amounts and number of donors to Bennett and Goodwin’s campaigns from Corporations, Labor Unions, and Political Action Committees.

    Approximately 3% of Goodwin’s total contributions came from organizations, compared to 68% of Bennett’s. The largest organizational donors to Bennett’s campaign were Faegre, Baker, Daniels ($7,500) and Commonwealth Engineers ($6,000).

    Goodwin’s two largest organizational contributors were EMC Resources ($1,000) and the Indiana Realtors PAC ($900). Bennett’s organizational contributions totaled $50,849 and Goodwin’s amounted to $2,200.

    When the locations of individual contributions to Bennett and Goodwin’s
    campaign’s were analyzed by the Urban Institute’s Spatial Equity Tool it can be seen that renters and residents with low incomes were significantly underrepresented.

    Also significantly underrepresented by Bennett’s contributions were black
    residents and households without internet access. Additionally, residents
    without a college degree were slightly underrepresented by both candidates.

    Overrepresented by both campaigns were white residents, seniors, and residents with a college education. A full analysis of both candidate’s contributions can be seen below.

    Duke Bennett:

    Pat Goodwin:

  • Staff Editorial: Race, Religion, and Politics in Vigo County

    How did a strongly Democratic city, that was widely known as the nation’s most accurate bell weather, suddenly turn red in just a few election cycles? Many have pointed to the popularity of Donald Trump and straight ticket voting, but what if Trump was just another result of a wider shift.

    What if MAGA was the result, not the cause, of conservative networking in rural communities, that ultimately led to a change in national politics, and the same change we’re seeing in Vigo County.

    Over the past several decades Christians have become increasingly concerned that “liberal democrats” were winning the culture wars, and in response they’ve been busy creating networks between religious leaders, business people, and politicians. Of course this type of networking has always taken place, but it reached new heights with the crusade to overturn Roe v Wade.

    It can be hard to see these networks from the outside, because many of them claim to be “non-political.” Take the Wabash Valley Ministerial Association as an example. This group of local pastors meets regularly to pray, eat lunch, and organize, and during these meetings members regularly discuss political topics like pro-life initiatives and sex education in public schools.

    Some members even host official political party meetings in their churches, and actively promote a type of Christian Nationalist political ideology called the seven mountain mandate.

    If you’re not familiar with the seven mountain mandate here’s author Elle Hardy’s comical yet accurate description, “it could be the premise of a terrible airport novel: A group of self-proclaimed ‘apostles’ have a plan rooted in biblical prophecy to ‘invade’ every sphere of life as we know it — and they have the ear of the most powerful men in the world.” 

    Despite this very active political involvement, when pastors have tried to discuss racial issues during WVMA meetings they have been told repeatedly that those conversations are “too political.” When discussions of race do occasionally happen, they are usually relegated to smaller meetings, often times with pastors who emphatically deny that systemic racism still exists.

    This was not always the case, however, twenty years ago the WVMA was a politically and theologically diverse group focused primarily on prayer and community service. A major turning point was the question of whether or not to accept clergy with same sex attraction. Over the years similar topics continued to divide the association, leaving a narrow group of mostly conservative evangelicals.

    This even led some members of the group to invite Tennessee Pastor Greg Locke to speak at a revival in Terre Haute. Locke has become infamous for his outrageous sermons, tent revivals, and book burnings. Including several months ago when he told Democrats to get out of his church, and claimed they were “God denying demons,” election thieves, and could not be Christians.

    Why would a pastor like this be invited to Terre Haute? Why would pastors who have a divine responsibility to seek justice in their community deny the existence of racial injustice? Why hasn’t the WVMA spoken out about racial harassment in the schools like they did for sex education?

    These are concerns that could make someone question the future of justice in Terre Haute. When Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, “the moral arc of the universe is long,” he was speaking to those who could not see a brighter future for their communities. Let’s all pray that a brighter future is in store for Terre Haute.

    – Matt Larimer

  • County election board refuses to hear citizen’s concern.

    At the January 13th meeting of the Vigo County Election Board members approved a vote center plan for the upcoming May 2nd municipal primary election.

    Towards the end of the meeting, board president and democratic appointee John Kesler, refused to listen to concerns brought forward by Terre Haute resident Todd Boland.

    Boland attended the meeting so that he could ask the board to take action on accusations made against him by Vigo County Clerk Brad Newman at a previous VCEB meeting.

    At the February 16th, 2022 meeting Newman told the election board that the Vigo County prosecutor’s office was investigating complaints of intimidation and harassment against Boland.

    Newman said he was “informed” of the allegations, that he had reported them to the prosecutor’s office, and that he could not go into detail because there was an “ongoing investigation.”

    As previously reported, these accusations had also been printed and distributed by local attorney Kal Ellis at a Democratic party meeting. At this time it is not known who informed Newman of the accusations.