INDIANAPOLIS – An Indianapolis police officer was speeding and made an illegal lane change just before his patrol car struck and killed a pregnant woman last year near a highway ramp, the woman's boyfriend alleges in a federal lawsuit.
Attorneys for Marcus Lewis Jr. allege that officer Jonathan Henderson was driving 33 mph over the speed limit moments before he hit 23-year-old Ashlynn Lisby on May 6, 2020, killing her, The Indianapolis Star reported.
“If a civilian drove this recklessly and killed two people, that person would likely face criminal charges,” attorney Stephen Wagner said in a news release. “That person would also lose his or her job if driving a vehicle for an employer at the time of the accident.”
The lawsuit, filed last month U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, alleges Henderson was never disciplined by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for the incident that killed Lisby.
Lisby was more than eight months pregnant with Lewis' child, according to the complaint, which said the child was born alive through an emergency cesarean section but died moments later. The suit seeks compensatory damages for Lewis for the death of his child, and punitive damages against Henderson.
The city's Office of Corporation Counsel said it does not comment on pending litigation.
Lisby was struck as she and Lewis were walking on the shoulder of a street just south of an Interstate 465 ramp on Indianapolis' southwest side, headed to their motel room, the suit states.
Her death and the fatal police shooting of two Black men in three separate incidents hours apart prompted protests against Indianapolis police.
Henderson, a 22-year veteran of the force at the time, was in uniform and driving in a police vehicle and on his way to roll call when he struck Lisby.
Lewis' lawyers say black box data obtained from the crash shows Henderson accelerated to 78 mph – 33 mph above the posted speed limit – and made an illegal lane shift over a solid white line as he positioned his vehicle into the right turn lane.
The suit alleges that Henderson checked his rearview mirror as he prepared to turn onto I-465 and his car drifted over the right fog line when he struck Lisby, whose body left an elliptical dent in the hood of his car and cracked his windshield.
Lewis' lawyers allege that IMPD attempted to cover up the incident by preparing a crash report that lists the primary cause of the accident as the “pedestrian's action.” That crash report states that none of Henderson's actions played a contributing role in the accident, they allege.
“The accident report does not mention that Henderson was speeding, made an illegal lane shift, and was driving partially on the shoulder ... when he struck Ashlynn,” according to the complaint.
IMPD said after the accident that Henderson called for backup, rendered first aid to Lisby, and collaborated with investigators, submitting to a blood draw to rule out impaired driving as a factor.