India Kager’s story — Her unfortunate death detailed

India Kager

Long before George Floyd’s murder at the hands of law enforcement in mid-2020 caused increased interest in the Black Lives Matter movement, the police had long faced accusations of unfair treatment of black people. In early September 2022, the Black Lives Matter Twitter handle catering to the 757 area code of eastern Virginia tweeted:

“7 years ago today India Kager was a 27-year-old Navy veteran and a mother of two. In 2015, four Virginia Beach police officers fired 30 rounds at her car while she was parking outside a 7-Eleven killing Kager and her child’s father while her 4-month-old son sat in a car seat in the back.”

India Kager was a loving Navy veteran talented in music and poetry

India Kager

On Labor Day weekend in 2015, Angelo Perry traveled to Maryland to meet Roman, then a four-month-old child he shared with India Kager. India lived with her father and grandfather, both retired police officers named Richard Kager. 

India’s father told The Virginian-Pilot that he distrusted Angelo. “I had a bad impression,” he said. “I don’t know what it was. Just a kind of sick sense.” Perry had spent 13 years in prison on several counts, including battery on a law enforcement officer.

Angelo was on parole, and according to India’s mom, Gina Best, his parole officer knew his whereabouts. Best told The Virginian-Pilot that India grew up in a loving and well-educated family. She had a talent for poetry and music and played the piano, violin, guitar, and flute. 

India attended the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington and served in the Navy. She was honorably discharged in May 2013 and awarded a good conduct medal. 

Gina told the outlet that some people took advantage of India’s loving nature. “She was very loving, very kind,” Best said. “She never really saw the bad in people. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of people like her.” 

Richard echoed Gina’s assertion: “I raised her to embrace mercy and to be understanding when it’s appropriate. But I also raised her not to be a fool.”

India Kager was driving to Virginia Beach when police ambushed and killed her

India Kager and Angelo Perry
Angelo Perry and India Kager

Kager and Angelo were driving to Virginia Beach to introduce Roman to Perry’s family. Unbeknownst to the pair, police were tailing Angelo, who they claimed was a suspect in various crimes, including robbery and homicide. 

According to Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera, authorities believed Perry was planning to commit another crime. However, Cervera didn’t give further details about the crime allegedly planned by Perry. Cervera said:

“He was a person of interest in a homicide case. And we did know that he was armed — we knew that he was heavily armed. We did have credible information that he was going to commit a violent act in our city.”

SWAT officers waited until Kager pulled into a 7-Eleven before springing into action. By then, they’d tailed India and Perry for three hours. Using an unmarked vehicle, they hit the back of India’s Cadillac, threw a flash grenade into the car, and smashed the windows. 

Perry started shooting at the officers, who responded by spraying India’s car with over 30 rounds of ammunition. In less than 15 seconds, India and Angelo were dead. The police said they recovered a 9mm pistol and a semiautomatic weapon from Perry. 

Miraculously, Roman, the couple’s baby, was uninjured, but he had blood and human tissue all over him. Best told Kimberle Crenshaw on a podcast interview that India lunged to protect Roman from the gunfire. “That is a true miracle,” Richard Kager said. 

Gina Best was convinced that the officers who shot indiscriminately at the car had no regard for India’s life. She told The Virginian-Pilot:

“They shot with the intent to kill. Not to maim. Not to apprehend. India comes from a military and law enforcement family. She had a high regard for law enforcement. She would have been compliant if they gave her the chance.”

Richard, a former police officer, said he had faith in the investigation into the matter. He said: “I’m trying as hard as I can to put myself in everyone’s position. I am trusting that the investigation will reveal the truth of the matter and whether there were mistakes made.”

A jury found two officers culpable for India Kager’s murder

Gina Best used Facebook to express her anger, frustration, and grief. In her mind, the police were responsible for her daughter’s murder. She wrote:

“My daughter, #IndiaKager was totally innocent, and should NOT have been killed by the police. She was NOT under investigation of any type or surveillance by the #VirginiaBeachPolice. Why didn’t they wait until India and Roman, my grandson, were safely out of the vehicle?”

Chief Cervera had a different view: “Virginia Beach Police Department and our officers believe in the sanctity of life. We do everything we can to mitigate violent conflict.”

The Virginia Beach police department placed four officers involved in the shooting on administrative leave as they investigated the incident. After the Commonwealth’s Attorney cleared the officers of wrongdoing, Kager’s family filed a wrongful death suit against the four police officers.

Before the trial, the family rejected the city’s $750,000 settlement offer. Edward Brady, one of the family’s attorneys, accused the police of gross negligence. Brady argued that the officers’ fixation on Perry led to the avoidable death of India Kager. 

The jury found two of the four officers liable for India’s death and recommended $800,000 compensation to India Kager’s estate. Chief Cervera continued defending his officers, saying:

“[These officers] put themselves in harm’s way to stop him from doing that. That’s a heck of a virtue for a person to have. Yes, it’s very difficult for these young officers, every day, to put on a bullet-proof vest, put a gun on their hip and go out and attempt to stop violence from violent people.”

India Kager’s mother is still searching for justice for her daughter

India Kager’s mother, Gina Best

“We will do everything humanly possible on behalf of India Kager,” Best said shortly after India’s death. “I will not stop until I take my last breath. I want answers. I want someone to be held accountable.”

Gina has stayed true to her vow – she hasn’t stopped seeking justice for her daughter. On the sixth anniversary of India’s death, she led a demonstration at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. 

“Six years later, here we are,” Gina told WUSA9. “There was no justice for India. Justice would have been she was never killed in the first place.”  

Gina said she’s pushing for reinvestigation of the case: “It has to be reopened. We want a separate investigation, not with the Virginia Beach Police. I want her case examined, opened again, because there was nothing done in any way of legal justice for her.”

Best told Kimberle Crenshaw that things would have gone differently had India been a white woman. She explained:

“One thing is very clear. If she were white, it would not have played out that way. They would have given her none of that. First of all, they wouldn’t have called a SWAT team with a white woman in the car with her baby.”