Fishers police respond to tort claim notice


Fishers Police Department Chief Ed Gebhart released a statement May 18 in response to a claim that officers racially profiled a man and his family following a confrontation with another man. 

In his statement, Gebhart said an internal review “confirmed officers responded in accordance with department policy and procedure.”

Other news outlets reported that Malcolm Bunnell filed a tort claim notice through his attorney, Faith Alvarez, a few weeks after the April 21 incident. At deadline, there was no response from Alvarez to a request from Current for a copy of the claim.

In a public post on Bunnell’s Facebook page April 21, he wrote that he was “held at gunpoint in the middle of traffic by the Fishers Police Department. I was forced out of my car at gunpoint and placed in handcuffs. They then forced my girlfriend out of the car at gunpoint and placed her in handcuffs. My 4-month-old daughter was in the car the whole time this was going on.”

Bunnell and his family had attended an Eid celebration in Fishers following a month of fasting for the Muslim month of Ramadan. They decided to stop at Walmart for baby formula, and Bunnell said that on their way there, a man sped around their vehicle to get in front, made an obscene gesture and yelled out the window. 

“He gets out of his car and everything,” Bunnell wrote. “I pull off and the man continues to follow me to Walmart. He then pulls next to me, still trying to provoke me to get out of my car and fight him. I let my girl out into the store and I have my baby in the car. I pull over to the front of the store and he pulls into a parking spot and gets out and keeps yelling (and) walking toward my car. I let him know it would be in his best interest to not keep approaching my car.”

Bunnell wrote that as they were leaving the parking lot, the man came back out, and again acted aggressively toward them before they drove away.

“As I am leaving the parking lot before I get to 96th street, the police pull me over with their guns drawn,” he wrote. “They told me the guy said I pulled a gun on him and was trying to fight him.”

The other man, Dustin Martin, had called the police. 

Officers found no firearms in Bunnell’s vehicle. Following an investigation Martin was arrested on May 7 on charges of resisting law enforcement and providing false information. 

Bunnell wrote that he was upset, disgusted and disappointed by the experience. 

In his May 18 statement, Gebhart wrote that the Fishers Police Department remains committed in its efforts to be transparent with its actions, decision-making and communication.

“The Fishers Police Department received a formal complaint from Mr. Bunnell on April 25, and conducted a formal complaint investigation of the facts, circumstances and information surrounding the incident in question,” Gebhart wrote. “The internal review of all information (officer body-worn cameras, in-car cameras, retail videos from the incident, dispatch radio traffic and CAD notes, the 911 call, case report and narratives) confirmed officers responded in accordance with department policy and procedure.”

Gebhart wrote that Bunnell has not responded to invitations to meet and discuss the incident in detail and to review the videos. 

“The Fishers Police Department and the City of Fishers will share all facts and evidence in the proper venue as a tort claim notice has been received, and a criminal case is pending with the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office,” he wrote. 

A tort claim is a claim for damages against a government agency. The first step in the tort claim process is filing a notice of a pending claim.