Indianapolis, IN – The U.S. Attorney’s Office has opened a federal investigation into an incident that involved an Indianapolis police sergeant kicking a handcuffed suspect in the head (video below).
The incident occurred on Sept. 24 when Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers responded to Monument Circle for a report of a “disruptive person,” KJRH reported.
Officers told the homeless man who was being loud and disorderly to quiet down when they arrived, according to the police report.
But the man – identified as Jermaine Vaughn – later told detectives that he didn’t follow their commands because he was “practicing his First Amendment right to free speech,” KJRH reported.
Vaughn told detectives that he continued to yell at the officers as they handcuffed him.
Bodycam video showed that IMPD Officer Matthew Shores ordered Vaughn to “lean back” as officers attempted to search him for weapons and contraband, WTHR reported.
When Vaughn asked how he was supposed to lean back with the officer holding onto him, Officer Shores took him to the ground, the video showed.
Bodycam video showed Vaughn kicked the officer as he was being taken down.
“We’re not going to do this, right?” Officer Shores asked Vaughn just as IMPD Sergeant Eric Huxley approached and stomped on the suspect’s head.
The video showed the suspect immediately began bleeding from the mouth.
“Stop. You’re done. You’re done. You’re done,” the officer told Vaughn.
Then an officer ordered the suspect to roll over and he said he couldn’t, so police rolled him over onto his stomach and finished securing his handcuffs.
The arrest affidavit quoted Sgt. Huxley as having made a comment in bodycam footage that has not yet been released, the Indianapolis Star reported.
“I accidentally kicked him in his face,” Sgt. Huxley said, according to the affidavit. “I was attempting to put my foot on his shoulder, and I accidentally kicked him in his face.”
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said the department became aware of the incident after the officers involved filed use-of-force reports, the Indianapolis Star reported.
Chief Taylor said he ordered an expedited internal investigation into the incident.
Then he suspended Sgt. Huxley without pay and recommended his termination to the Civilian Police Merit Board, WTHR reported.
“I promised this community and I promised our officers that I would be transparent and that’s in good times and bad times,” Chief Taylor told reporters at a press conference. “And this is a bad time, but I think the community deserves it.”
The police chief announced that IMPD Sergeant Christopher Kibbey and Officer Shores have been placed on administrative leave while an internal affairs investigation into their roles in the incident is completed, WTHR reported.
“Today’s body-worn camera recording depicting the actions of an IMPD Sergeant will likely shock and anger you, like it did to me,” Chief Taylor said. “To the citizen involved in this incident, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. That interaction does not represent IMPD and the work our officers do each day to keep our community safe.”
“I understand after watching this video there’s going to be some people who are upset, and we’ll hope to mend those fences where we can,” the police chief continued. “My apology not only goes out to the men and women of IMPD that do it right but every other law enforcement officer in this state and in this country because I know these videos they’re seeing, there’s going be people that are going say, ‘That’s what they’re all like.’ Well, let me tell you, that’s not what they’re all like. We’ll get through this.”
On Tuesday, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges of battery and official misconduct against Sgt. Huxley, KJRH reported.
Federal prosecutors announced on Wednesday that they were also investigating the incident with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), WTHR reported.
“The United States Attorney’s Office is aware of the incident involving an IMPD officer and Jermaine Vaughn. Our office and the FBI have opened an investigation, and if the investigation reveals prosecutable violations of any federal criminal statutes, the Department will take appropriate action,” acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress in a statement.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: