Michael Taylor

Shot in the head whilst in police cruiser

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

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 that Taylor had 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 had 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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