INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said Wednesday night that his office on Tuesday had launched a criminal investigation into police officers captured on video using batons on a woman protesting downtown and shoving another woman who questioned their actions.
The incident was on a downtown sidewalk during the start of a curfew May 31.
Video of the encounter captured by News 8 reporter Richard Essex has been viewed tens of thousands of times. The video, which was posted to Facebook, was discussed several times Wednesday night in a virtual meeting of the City-County Council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee.
Mears said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department completed a separate internal affairs investigation before his office was approached to take over.
“I personally met with the detective in that case to go over what we were looking for, things that were going to be important to us as we made a decision whether charges are appropriate or not, and I’m hopeful I’ll be in a position to let the community know and let the council know what decision we reached on those facts,” Mears said.
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said at the virtual meeting that the officers’ actions made him uncomfortable. “I didn’t like what I saw,” Taylor said.
However, the police chief added, just because he didn’t like the way, it looked does not mean it was illegal.
At one point during the meeting, Democrat Councilor Leroy Robinson challenged Taylor on the incident: “You mentioned ‘resisting arrest.’ She clearly had her arms to her side, clearly did not move. … Even when she was being hit with the baton she did not raise her arms to protect herself. I’m sure you saw that to but I just wanted to put that out there.”
Taylor disagreed with Robinson’s claim: “We must have seen a different video because I did indeed see a person resist arrest, and that’s why the officers made their move.”
The police chief said he follows guidelines, which is why he launched the internal investigation. “We owe it to the officers to investigate that and, trust me, if there is something that comes out of that investigation, they will be disciplined, and now we have the possibility of criminal charges if that’s what Mr. Mears decides to do,” Taylor said.
The police chief reminded the public that officers involved in the baton incident have already been reassigned to a different detail.