In 1988, a Catholic high school teacher, Fred Sanders, didn't always get along with his neighbors. They would often call the police with some sort of complaint, and each time, the complaint would be shown invalid. But it was a kind of harassment he experienced. One time, they called about a dog making racket and so the police, a group of them, came and addressed him while he was outside.Professor Henry Karlson often recounted this case to his law students. I recall Professor Karlson telling me how angry the police were that he had gotten involved in Fred Sanders' case, the threatening phone calls he received and how he learned that someone had illegally wiretapped his telephone while he was working on the case. Here's a factual summary of what happened in the civil case, which was Sanders' only recourse for justice:
There was a discussion, and already, they were shown to be aggressive. They were already being physically abusive to him. He didn't like it, so he went back to his home, and locked the door. The police didn't like his attitude, so they demanded entry. He asked if he were under arrest or if there were a warrant. The answer to both was no. He told them to go away. They didn't. Instead, when he knew they were going to break down his door, he ran upstairs to get a shotgun. They broke in, and ran up after him. When they saw him with the gun, they started to run -- he, however, was not convinced and was afraid, after being physically assaulted. So he shot out, and hit one of the officers -- killing him! [Note: this officer was Patrolman Matt Faber -- JC.]
He gave himself up.
The other police handcuffed him and basically beat him up -- very very bad. Nearly to death. His eye was out of its socket it was so bad (and never fully healed). He is put on trial for murder, and afraid of the consequence (with a lawyer not helping, and his mother, dying, and afraid he will be put to death, telling him to take pleas) pleads guilty ( I think to manslaughter). But then others hear of the case, and think he was railroaded (should have been legitimate defense of his home/life), and that the police officers, when on trial, lied and were protecting each other as they avoided much of the evidence of what happened. He gets a new lawyer (who also recruited my dad, a law professor, as co-counsel) [Editor's note: The law professor is the late Henry Karlson of IU School of Law--Indianapolis]. The new lawyer can't do much with the conviction. So he launches a suit and criminal charges against the police.
On August 4, 1988, numerous IPD officers, after illegally forcing their way into the home of Fred Sanders and arresting him, savagely beat Sanders after he was handcuffed and subdued, causing Sanders serious bodily injury. The police department covered-up the use of excessive force by the officers in the case. IPD Officer Robert Ward was identified by civilians as one officer who engaged in the beating, and he was later convicted of battery. The federal jury who heard the Sanders case returned a verdict for $1.5 million for Sanders and against the Police and the City of Indianapolis. This sent a powerful message to the police that the community would no longer tolerate such abusive behavior towards Hoosier's as the Defendants' in that case had exercise with impunity against Sanders. Judge Sarah Evans Barker, in one of the more heinous acts of usurpation of citizens' power committed from a federal court bench, reduced this jury award to a mere $77,000.00, thereby condemning Sander's attorney to retry the case no less than three more times on narrower grounds than the first trial court victory.