$750,000 Settlement in Indianapolis for Man Shot and Paralyzed at Gas Station by Unknown Assailant from Unruly Crowd That Gathered After Murder of Person the Night Before at Same Site
On the night of August 13th, 2016, 16 year-old Theothus Carter was gunned down by an unknown assailant at a Conoco gas station in Indianapolis. Despite video footage and witnesses, the police were unable to make an arrest that night.
Although this was a community scarred by years of gun violence, the outcry over the killing of a child was loud and quick. A demonstration was planned for the next night at the same place by neighborhood protesters against community violence. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn't united as to the purpose of the gathering. Carter's family and other mourners would attend to honor the slain child and they brought broken hearts; others brought guns.
On August 14th, 2016, a crowd of 50-70 gathered at the Conoco gas station as nightfall approached. The small parking lot of the gas station was filled with vehicles and people angry for justice. Despite the large number of people and the obvious agitation of the crowd with its potential for violence, the gas station owners offered no security on its premises to protect its paying customers. It did not ask the crowd to disperse; it did not staff extra employees; it did not call the police for assistance.
In fact, because its video cameras had been taken by the police the night before to investigate the shooting, there was no way for gas station employees to monitor or see the gathering crowd in its parking lot other than attempting to look through this obscured window.
Donald Baker, who had just finished with his shift at a local restaurant, arrived at the gas station to get gasoline and buy items as was his weekly routine. He lived a short distance away and would often buy gas and other items at the Conoco. But, this time something was different -- the parking lot was crammed with vehicles and people.
Baker was immediately verbally assaulted by youths as he parked and went into the store. He was alarmed at the insults and threatening behavior of the youths. Once inside, he requested assistance from the only employee of the store -- behind the counter. He said he feared for his safety and asked the counter employee to call the police. This request was denied.
The employee explained that he didn't have the time nor the capability of handling the mob -- he was the only one working. So, Donald asked for the police to be called. This request was also denied.
As he walked back to his vehicle and attempted to drive from the blocked parking lot, Donald's car made contact with another vehicle, allegedly owned by Theotus Carter's mother. This was the spark that led to violence. The angry mob surrounded Mr. Baker to prevent his departure. They hurled verbal and physical threats. Someone in the crowd drew a gun and fired several shots into the car from behind – striking Donald Baker in the head and back. A bullet crushed Donald Baker's thoracic vertebrae and severed his spinal cord.
It would be the last time that Donald Baker walked. It would lead to the amputation of his leg and countless other operations that nearly cost him his life -- all because the Conoco owners and employees failed to take any action for hours despite knowing of a highly dangerous situation on its property for customers. Today, Donald Baker lives without the use of his legs because his request for a simple telephone call was ignored by a corporation more interested in profits than people.