Unarmed Black man shot, paralyzed by Indianapolis police officer wins record settlement

Gerald Cole took a bullet to his back, leaving him unable to walk by a cop with a record of complaints. But despite the hefty settlement, the officer is still on the force

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A Black man who was shot in the back and subsequently paralyzed by an Indianapolis police officer with a history of complaints has won one of the largest settlements in the city’s history.

Gerald Cole was unarmed when Officer James Perry shot him twice as he was arguing with his brother in October 2016, local station WXIN reports. The wounds left Cole partially paralyzed and facing millions of dollars in medical bills.

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As a result, the city last month agreed to pay Cole $2.15 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Cole. It is one of the largest such settlements in Indianapolis history, according to the station.

“He doesn’t really have the potential to regain the ability to walk or live on his ow or do many things he could do before,” Richard Waples, Cole’s lawyer, told WXIN. “His life is forever changed,” Waples said.

Perry has at least a half dozen citizen complaints against him and is the subject of two federal lawsuits. However, he still remains actively employed by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

In a statement, Waples also said, “Gerald Cole and his family are satisfied with the settlement of his federal lawsuit against Officer Perry. We think that the city should take additional steps to make sure Officer Perry is never again in a position to abuse his authority as a police officer.”

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Cole’s account of the incident differed greatly from that of Perry, according to reports.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Bryan Roach said in a statement that the decision to settle was not easy.

“Deciding to resolve a lawsuit is always difficult, and that is certainly true in a case where a firearms review board concluded that Officer Perry’s use of force was justified,” Roach said in the statement.

He added, “But we also have a responsibility to be good stewards of public funds, and the undeniable reality of taking a case to trial is that it presents risks for both sides — particularly when a case involves substantial past and future medical expenses.”