Lawsuit filed against City of Evansville and EPD in death of 20-year-old man

Lawsuit filed against City of Evansville and EPD in death of 20-year-old man
Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 2:31 PM CST

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A law firm has filed a federal wrongful death civil rights lawsuit against the City of Evansville and seven Evansville Police Department officers.

According to a press release, the lawsuit comes after the death of 20-year-old Evan Terhune.

Officials say on Nov. 14, 2020, Terhune sustained a brain injury shortly after being arrested. The incident happened at “The Lofts” apartments on Loft Cove in Evansville.

Our records show police were called to that scene for a possible break-in.

At the time of his arrest, police say Terhune was on a hallucinogenic drug.

When police arrived on scene, Terhune punched an officer, according to police. EPD has released body cam footage showing that attack.

Officers then tased Terhune before placing him into the back of a police van to be taken to the hospital. Once inside the vehicle, both police and attorneys say Terhune began hitting his head against the metal sides of it.

He was later pronounced dead, and his cause of death was determined to be “a subdural hemorrhage from blunt force trauma to the head,” according to Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear.

Attorney Stephen Wagner filed the lawsuit. He claims Evansville Police made a series of mistakes that if corrected could have prevented Terhune’s death.

“The police made some fateful, tragic mistakes,” Wagner said. “First, they failed to allow any of the medical personnel on scene to examine and evaluate him. Then, when it came time to transport him to the hospital, they knew he needed to go to the hospital, they shooed away the ambulance.”

Wagner says if police had handled the situation properly, they would have realized Terhune was in danger of harming himself.

“For a minute at the scene, he thrashed about. They could hear it, they could see the wagon shaking. They didn’t pull him out and reevaluate their decision. Instead an officer drove him to Deaconess, for 13 minutes, stopping at every stoplight, driving the speed limit,” Wagner said.

Wagner claims police also waited seven minutes once they arrived at the hospital before they took him inside.

He says they are seeking a change in the way EPD treats those in their custody who cannot take care of themselves.

We reached out to EPD and the city attorney for a statement.

They both said they will not be commenting at this time, which is their standard practice during an open lawsuit.