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article imageIndiana couple awarded $370,000 in excessive force claim

By Megan Hamilton     Sep 11, 2015 in Odd News
Indianapolis - A young couple who alleged that an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department reserve officer fired unjustifiably at their car early in the morning on New Year's Day 2014 have settled a lawsuit with the city and the officer for $370,000.
That's according to their attorney, USA Today reports.
Luke Woodworth, 19 when the shooting occurred, filed the civil rights case in federal court one year ago. Woodworth and Samantha Wills, his girlfriend and co-plaintiff, who was 17 at the time, alleged that reserve officer Michael Krebs fired a gun at them when they mistakenly pulled into his driveway.
Documents say that the couple knocked on Krebs' door but got no response. They realized they were at the wrong house and went back to their car and pulled into Krebs' driveway to check their phone for directions.
Court documents allege that Krebs approached the couple's car as they were parked in his driveway, and the complaint alleges Krebs pointed a gun at Woodworth and shouted "give me your ID," but reportedly didn't tell the couple he was a police officer.
"Thinking that he was about to be robbed or shot," per the complaint, "... Mr. Woodworth immediately put the car into reverse and quickly backed out of the driveway."
This, the documents claim, is when Krebs fired his gun at the car seven times. Woodworth and Wills weren't hit by any bullets, but the complaint says several of the shots damaged their car and note that two bullets entered the car's interior.
That account contrasts considerably with the one Krebs gave when the incident occurred. Police told the Indianapolis Star just after the shooting occurred that Krebs grabbed his service gun when his wife looked out the window and saw two people "fidgeting with the front door."
According to police, Krebs identified himself, then ordered the two teens inside the car to do the same, but they didn't respond. That, police said, is when the driver put the car into reverse and hit Krebs, leading him to open fire.
Police also told the Star that at the time Krebs was slightly injured but didn't require medical care. The complaint filed by Woodworth and Wills says Woodworth did not hit Krebs, and that the officer "sustained no injuries."
Mashable reports that Woodworth and Wills went to police about the incident. That resulted in Woodworth being arrested for alleged criminal recklessness, but the charges were dropped.
Krebs no longer works as a police officer.
The city has no comment regarding the settlement, Amanda Dinges told ABC 6.
"Michael Krebs is no longer a Reserve Officer with IMPD but is a public assistance civilian employee," Dinges said.
Woodworth told ABC 6 he wasn't entirely happy with the settlement.
"Honestly this whole thing could have and should have gone away if the cops served and protected the citizens of the city," he said. "I had to go through months and months just thinking that I could go to jail for something I didn't do. They failed me that night and that's what disappoints me the most."
The city, he said, chose not to do the right thing.
"Most of all it disappoints me that I had to sue my city, a city that I love," Woodworth said. "This money does not make me happy and I don't believe it ever will."
Rich Waples, the attorney for Woodworth and Wills, says the settlement should send a message to IMPD to provide better training for its officers, ABC 6 reports.
"I think it's going to increase the commitment of the city of Indianapolis to try to get it right more often than they do now," he said.
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