In September of 1987, 16-year-old Michael H. Taylor Jr—affectionately knowns as Mikey—was shot in the head while his hands were cuffed behind his back. Although he was found handcuffed in the back seat of an Indianapolis police car with a gunshot wound to his right temple, it would be nine years before our family would catch even a glimpse of justice.
After this mysterious and controversial death, lawyers for the City of Indianapolis organized a change of venue and moved the trial to Greenfield, Indiana. Not only were the proceedings to take place nine years late and two counties away, but they were also being considered a civil trial—not a criminal trial. The jury in Greenfield found two officers and the City of Indianapolis guilty of wrongful death and violating the rights of Mikey's mother, Nancy Hobbs. However, this doesn't mean that justice has been served. Our family and friends will never stop seeking justice until every citizen in this nation receives the same due process, regardless of their background, profession, or skin color.
The Officers Involved
Six officers were present at the scene when Mikey was taken into custody. Two of these officers, Folgeman and Wiseman, are now both deceased. Folgeman was found hanged in his garage, and Wiseman was found in his patrol car with a fatal gunshot. It was reported that both of these men left suicide notes. The trial in Greenfield did not include mention of either man, and they were not present at either the people's inquest or deposition in 1987. The defendants in this case—the City of Indianapolis and two of the other officers, Penniston and Aurs—insisted that the information about these deaths should be inadmissible. This prompts many questions: Why weren't these eye witnesses originally subpoenaed or questioned? What were they afraid of? What did Folgeman and Wiseman know? What was revealed in their suicide notes that wasn't revealed during the trial? Was their guilt too heavy to bear?
Penniston and Aurs were found guilty of wrongful death and violating the constitutional right of equal protection under the law. However, no criminal charges were laid against anyone involved. After the charges were presented, we held a press conference demanding that criminal charges be filed. Nothing has happened yet—no investigation of the murder or the evidence that was uncovered during the trial. Although none of the officers admitted guilt, there are still many unanswered questions, and we demand answers.
The truth is that in 1987 and today in 2020, police officers aren't held accountable for crimes of humanity, including cold-blooded murder, police brutality, and excessive force. Should the scales of justice lean more toward officers? Or should they be held accountable to the same laws that govern us all?
Seeking answers to these questions is the reason F.O.R.C.E was established over 33 years ago. To help improve community-police relations, we don't view this as an “us vs. them” scenario. Instead, we're here to unite and work together with everyone, including law enforcement workers, legal professionals, and elected officials. We aim to ensure that all officers uphold their oath to serve, protect, and hold their colleagues accountable when they witness wrongdoing and injustice. Together, we can improve community-police relations and make our country a better place to live. Be part of our community-building organization, or you can help us through donations to support our cause in promoting diversity and equal justice throughout Indianapolis and the surrounding areas. Contact us if you want to learn more about Michael Taylor and what our organization stands for.