INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has fired one officer and reprimanded another following a case of alleged police brutality.
An internal investigation started with the May 16 arrest of 15-year-old Brandon Johnson. Police say he was resisting arrest as police tried to take his younger brother into custody.
One of the five officers who responded to the call of a possible burglary in progress was Jerry Piland, who lived nearby. He was off-duty, in plain clothes, but in a marked police car.
As officers tried to restrain Brandon Johnson, who they say was being unruly, an internal police investigation found Piland slapped Johnson in the head and used knee strikes to his body while Johnson was on the ground.
"However once (officers) Carney and Clothier had Brandon under control, no additional use of force was necessary or appropriate," Chief Paul Ciesielski told reporters. "This morning, I met with Officer Piland and terminated his employment with IMPD."
Officer Piland was fired. Officer Stacy Lettinga was given a written reprimand for using bad judgment for initiating the arrest
The three other officers involved were not disciplined. All except Piland are back on street duty.
Bill Owensby, president of the Indianapolis chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, promises a fight to get Officer Piland's job back.
"I've heard nothing to indicate to me where the excessive force took place," says Bill Owensby, president of the Indianapolis chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Piland was on patrol with Jason Fishburn when Fishburn was shot by a murder suspect. Piland is credited with helping save Fishburn's life.
"This is an exemplary officer," defends Owensby. "I mean he's got nothing but commendation, nothing but good stuff for his police work."
Brandon Johnson won't face charges in the case.
Mmoja Ajabu, a community activist, says nothing justifies what police did.
"If they were not committing a crime, and the police beat them up and arrested them for not committing a crime, then the police are wrong," says Ajabu.
Now Public Safety Director Frank Straub is promising more training for officers and more education of the public on the proper use of force.
"Police conduct, police integrity, police respect and professionalism doesn't start with use of force issues," says Straub. "It starts with day-to-day interactions between every police officer and every member of the community."
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