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Michael Taylor

Shot in the head whilst in police cruiser

compiled from various sources
published: 4WardEver UK – December 2010

Any news updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item

This case profile chronicles one of the longest running investigations and subsequent lawsuits following a US police fatal shooting. It took 13 years from the shooting to the $1.9 million payout by the Indianapolis police department. On 24th September 1987, Michael Taylor, a 16-year-old auto theft suspect, was shot in the head as he sat in an Indianapolis police cruiser with his hands cuffed behind his back. He died a day later.

Police investigators concluded Taylor shot himself with a gun he had somehow concealed, and the coroner ruled the death a suicide. The FBI and a private investigator hired by local black ministers also concluded that Taylor shot himself.

However, in 1996 a civil jury in Hancock County rejected those findings and concluded police were responsible for Taylor’s death. The jury awarded Taylor’s family $3.5 million, but that amount was later reduced to $2.6 million.

On March 8, 2000, Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson said the city would not appeal the judgment.

Timeline in the Michael Taylor case:

Sept. 24, 1987 5:04 p.m – Michael Taylor shot while handcuffed in back seat of police car at Juvenile Center after being arrested for attempted auto theft.

Sept. 25, 1987 – 1:40 p.m. Taylor dies.

Oct. 2-3, 1987 – Black leaders present Mayor William Hudnut with 18 questions in the shooting; demonstrate in front of police headquarters. Police chief later admits police secretly videotaped protest.

Oct. 7, 1987 – IPD concludes Taylor shot himself. Two officers suspended one day with pay. Mayor pleads for calm.

Oct. 14, 1987 – Marion County coroner opens unprecedented public inquiry.

Oct. 24, 1987 – Controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan accuses Hudnut and IPD of racist-inspired cover-up.

Oct. 27, 1987 – Detective hired by black ministers concludes Taylor shot himself.

November 1987 – Southern Christian Leadership Conference president calls for U.S. Justice Department probe.

Nov. 17, 1987 – Coroner rules death a suicide.

November 1987 – Protesters picket Richard’s Marketbasket grocery stores, owned by public safety director Richard I. Blankebaker, for five days.

July 1988 – Taylor case hot topic at Black Expo.

Sept. 21, 1988 – FBI concludes Taylor shot himself.

Sept. 23, 1988 – Mayor’s Human Relations Task Force to ease community tensions disbands.

July 14, 1989 – Minister Muhammad Siddeeq, who led `people’s inquest’ into the case, says he found a witness who saw police shoot Taylor.

October 1989 – Hudnut proposes a new Citizens Police Complaint Board.

Aug. 31, 1989 – Taylor’s mother files multimillion-dollar lawsuit against city and two officers.

Sept. 27, 1989 – The Rev. Wayne T. Harris, chief critic of IPD version of shooting, says he accepts Taylor could have shot himself.

May 3, 1990 – Farrakhan again lashes out at IPD, saying police killed Taylor.

June 24, 1991 – Farrakhan again blasts police in Taylor case.

July 22, 1993 – Officer Charles F. Penniston wins a court judgment for $15 in a libel suit against Muhammad Siddeeq.

Feb. 10, 1996 – Trial in Taylor’s mother’s civil suit begins in Hancock County.

March 21, 1996 – 5 a.m. Jurors award $4.3 million to Taylor’s family, rejecting long-standing official findings of suicide instead concluding police were responsible. City lawyers say they will appeal

Sept. 4, 1996 – Hancock County Judge Richard T. Payne reduces the award to about $2.9 million to conform to a limit on liability for a government entity.

March 8, 2000 – Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson says the city will not appeal the $2.6 million judgment because there was little chance the U.S. Supreme Court would review the case.

April 17, 2000 – The city and Taylor family agreed to a settlement in which the city would pay the family $1.9 million.

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Follow-up News:

No updates available at present…

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