Indianapolis, IN – Indianapolis police officials are struggling with blowback from within after two officers were indicted for their handling of protesters and now the rest of the members of the specialized crowd-control unit have threatened to quit.
On Friday, WTHR reported on Friday that more than 100 members of the Event Response Group (ERG), the crowd-control squad trained to respond when events become out of control, had threatened to quit the special team.
ERG officers planned to turn in their gear at the Regional Operation Center (ROC) and resign from the unit on Aug. 14.
WTHR reported that Indianapolis Police Chief Randal Taylor was aware of the very real possibility that his police department’s entire ERG may quit and was scrambling for alternatives for protests expected over the weekend.
Chief Randal was reportedly meeting with other high-ranking officers to come up with a plan to for the police department to deal with violent protesters without its trained crowd-control unit.
ERG is an entirely voluntary unit, and officers who belong are afforded extra training and extra duties, WTHR reported.
It is the first unit called to handle crowd control, and as such, ERG officers have been very busy since riots began in the city on May 31 over the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police six days earlier, WXIN reported.
There are other specialized units like SWAT still in place, WTHR reported.
The incident that sparked the controversy and eventual charges was captured on video by WISH.
The video showed several Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers attempting to take two female protesters into custody for violating the city’s 8 p.m. emergency curfew that was put into place after two nights of rioting left parts of the city utterly destroyed.
When the video began, more police were arriving on the scene at the street corner where an officer was trying to take Ivoré Westfield into custody.
Her friend, Rachel Harding, stood nearby in the video screaming at the officer trying to handcuff her struggling friend.
Another officer was putting someone in handcuffs near a group of people about 25 feet down the sidewalk, the video showed.
Officers in riot gear carrying pepper ball guns yelled at protesters to stop as they arrived.
Westfield began resisting arrest when the additional officers arrived on the scene, the video showed.
The video showed Westfield began struggling and pulled away from the officer who was detaining her.
An officer with a pepper ball gun immediately deployed three rounds at Westfield from about 10 feet away.
Two officers moved in simultaneously and began striking her with their batons as they ordered her to get on the ground, the video showed.
The officer with the pepper balls shot four more of the less-lethal rounds at Westfield and officers were eventually able to push the woman down onto the pavement and put her in handcuffs, the video showed.
Meantime, Harding repeatedly screamed “why her?” at officers as she attempted to interfere in the arrest.
The video showed an officer gave the purple-haired woman a shove back and told her to back up but she ignored him.
So another officer gave Harding a two-handed shove that landed her on her butt, but she never stopped screaming at officers, the video showed.
Harding resisted being put in handcuffs but the video showed additional officers arrived on the scene to assist.
IMPD said the women were arrested for curfew violation, WIBC reported.
The community was outraged when video of the violent arrest went viral.
On Aug. 7, IMPD Chief Randal Taylor identified the officers involved in the incident as 20-year IMPD veteran Sergeant David Kinsey, 18-year veteran Officer Conrad Simpson, five-year veteran Officer Johnathan, and eight-year veteran Officer Nathanial Schauwecker, WXIN reported.
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears held a press conference on Aug. 12 to announce the indictments against Officer Schauwecker and Officer Horlock.
Mears said that Officer Horlock had been indicted on charges of felony battery, felony perjury, felony obstruction of justice, and felony official misconduct.
The prosecutor said Officer Schauwecker was facing charges that included felony battery and two counts of felony official misconduct, according to WXIN.
Chief Taylor had already placed Officers Horlock and Schauwecker on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation into the incident before they were indicted, but said he would reserve judgement regarding their terminations until after their trials.