Family believes man shot in back while running from Indiana police after traffic stop

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer who shot Gary Harrell not yet ID'd

ByRich Nye, WTHR
Sunday, August 6, 2023
Family believes man shot in back while running from Indiana police
Family believes Gary Harrell, who was killed in an IMPD shooting, was running from Indianapolis police and shot in the back.

INDIANAPOLIS -- A family is grieving after they say police shot a man in the back, as he ran from an officer in Indianapolis this week.

Local Black church leaders are also demanding more information about the fatal shooting, WTHR reported.

A balloon release was held Friday in Gary Harrell's memory.

His family is praying for justice.

Close to a hundred family and friends of 49-year-old Harrell gathered near 34th Street and Parker Avenue, at the same place where Harrell was shot and killed by an IMPD officer after a traffic stop Thursday morning.

They stood near a candle and wooden cross marking a memorial to Harrell.

They prayed for the family and for justice before releasing balloons.

Harrell's family and Black church leaders believe the facts of what happened during the traffic stop are up in the air.

"There were some folks in the community who say the individual may have had a gun, but he was not brandishing his gun, and he was shot as he was fleeing, in the back. That's problematic," said Pastor Darrell Brooks, with the Black Church Coalition.

Police said Harrell was pulled over for reckless driving, then ran from his car with a gun in his hand.

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During a short foot pursuit, police said the officer fired his gun, striking Harrell at least once.

He died at the hospital.

No one at the balloon release wanted to speak on camera. But the message on the cross spoke for many family and friends.

Someone wrote, "Gary couldn't have outrun police on his best day. The officer chose to kill him in cold blood as he ran away in fear only to be shot in the back and killed by someone paid to serve and protect him."

Police said all the normal criminal and internal affairs investigations after a police action shooting must run their course.

"They've lost faith with the faith community and with the Black community. And it continues to degrade year after year with instances like this," Brooks said.

"These are tough times, and we ask you to continue to be patient as we work through this investigation," IMPD Deputy Chief Michael Wolley said.

Police said the officer's body camera was recording during the incident, but provided no additional information Friday about the investigation.

The officer who shot Harrell has not been identified.

He has been placed on administrative leave, which is normal procedure in a police shooting investigation.

Harrell had a long history of traffic violations involving driving without a license or with a suspended license, or with expired plates.