Young Couple Wins $370k From City In Excessive Force Lawsuit

couple wins $370k in excessive force lawsuit

A couple who say a reserve police officer shot at them after they went to the wrong house early New Year’s Day has settled with the city of Indianapolis for $370,000 in an excessive force lawsuit.

Luke Woodworth, 19 at the time, and Samantha Willis, then 17, filed a civil rights lawsuit after reserve officer Michael Krebs shot at them when they mistook his house for one with a New Year’s party.

The complaint, filed in federal court, states the couple got lost on their way to a New Year’s Eve party and knocked on officer Michael Krebs’s door. When no one answered, they got back in their car and pulled into the driveway to check their cell phone for directions, according to the USA Today.

Rich Waples, attorney for the plaintiffs Woodworth and Wills, told the Indy Channel Krebs appeared outside the couple’s car door armed with a pistol and demanded their IDs but didn’t identify himself.

“The officer came up on them, not dressed in a uniform, pointing a gun and saying ‘give me your ID. They were scared. They started backing up and he started shooting at them. These kids just came on the wrong property, accidentally, thinking it was where their party was on New Year’s Eve. They ended up leaving, pulling into the driveway to turn around. Some glass and shrapnel hit the kids and obviously they were scared as can be and drove away as fast as they could.”

Krebs fired seven shots at the young couple, striking their car five times as they drove away. His story of what happened that night, however, is entirely different.

Krebs claims he grabbed his gun after his wife told him people were “fidgeting with the front door.” He ran outside to confront the young couple and identified himself as a police officer, which is when they put the car in gear and ran into him. Krebs claims it was only after being struck by the car that he opened fire.

Woodworth and Willis say they never hit Krebs with the car.

When the young couple complained to police about the incident, officers arrested Krebs for criminal recklessness. The case was later dropped.

Krebs is no longer a reserve officer, but he does work as a public assistance officer taking phone-in reports.

Waples, the couple’s attorney, told the USA Today that everyone involved is glad the situation ended as good as it did.

“It’s just another important case that helps give incentives to the city to make sure they recruit the right officers and train them correctly so we don’t have these kind of incidents in the future.”

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]