10/25/2005 - A deputy sheriff accused of battering his daughter and threatening to incarcerate her if she told on him now faces disciplinary action by Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Carter.
"It's going to the Merit Board," Carter said today of the results of an internal investigation conducted after Deputy Mark A. Poynter was arrested Sept. 9.
Officer Poynter was suspended with pay after his arrest stemming from the case initiated by Indiana State Police. His employment as a 19-year veteran of the sheriff's department could be terminated as a result of the Merit Board proceedings.
Carter said he could not divulge details of the departmental findings pending the public hearing before the board, which is currently set for Nov. 15.
"I wish I could," he said.
Poynter, 50, is charged with battery resulting in bodily injury, intimidation and obstruction of justice. The charges stem from past incidents involving his 11-year-old daughter, according to court documents. Poynter has declined to comment on the matter.
"He's on administrative leave pending the outcome of the hearing," said Maj. Mark Bowen, who said Poynter will collect a paycheck while on suspension.
Carter's decision to take Poynter before the Merit Board reflects his opinion that a 15-day suspension without pay -- the maximum penalty he can administer without a Merit Board hearing -- is insufficient punishment.
Without saying what his recommendation would be, Carter said that a hearing would be necessary if he were to seek an unpaid suspension beyond 15 days, a reduction in rank, or termination.
09/26/2005 - Indianapolis Police arrested one of their own overnight, and he's accused of drinking and driving.
An IPD Detective on his home Friday morning said a car passed him on I-70 driving about 120 miles per hour.
The detective called for help, hoping to get the car stopped.
When officers stopped the car on the ramp onto southbound Shadeland Avenue, they say Officer Michael Hill got out of the car and appeared to be drunk.
Hill works undercover as a narcotics detective.
Officer Hill told IPD officers he just left a downtown Indianapolis Bar, where he says he only had five beers to drink.
But Hill's blood alcohol level registered at .25 - more than three times the legal limit.
Hill didn't say if he was drinking with other officers or alone.
But he is now the sole target of both a criminal and an internal affairs investigation.
"This is not unique," according to IPD's Steve Staletovich. "There have been other officers stopped by IPD officers since I have been an information officer. The message is clear, 'call a friend, or don't (drive) at all.'"
IPD Chief Michael Spears instituted a stricter disciplinary policy on officers drinking and driving earlier this year.
That means Michael Hill's punishment, if found guilty, could range from suspension to dismissal.
09/14/2005 - NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Carter said Monday he was "incredibly disappointed" over allegations that a deputy injured and intimidated the deputy's 11-year-old daughter.
Deputy Mark Poynter, 50, of Westfield, was arrested Friday on charges of battery resulting in bodily injury, intimidation and obstruction of justice.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Poynter in May drove to a spot where his daughter was playing with friends and ordered her into the car. Once she was inside, he grabbed her by her sweatshirt, shook her, and struck her in the left eye with his right hand, according to the document.
Poynter also is accused of grabbing the girl by the elbow this month, causing a deep bruise, Thomas reported.
Police said Poynter told his daughter that she would be put in juvenile detention if she told authorities about the incidents.
Carter said his department has launched an internal investigation.
"I am incredibly disappointed. When an officer makes a decision that brings discredit to this profession and ultimately to this agency, particularly one that I have responsibility for, it upsets me greatly," Carter said.
Poynter was freed after posting $12,500 bond. He is on paid suspension.
09/07/2005 - The military trial of an Army reservist accused of abusing a detainee who later died in Afghanistan began Tuesday with a fellow officer testifying that she watched the reservist and a soldier from Jeffersonville kicking the prisoner.
Sgt. Christopher W. Greatorex, who served in Afghanistan with the Cincinnati-based 377th Military Police Company, is standing trial for abusing a detainee known as Habibullah at a Bagram Airfield detention center, then lying about it. He is on trial at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Sgt. Keri Patterson testified Tuesday that Greatorex and Jeffersonville soldier Sgt. Darin Broady took turns hitting the Habibullah on his knees as he stood in his cell with his hands chained to the ceiling. She said Broady, who has since become a Sellersburg police officer, also gave Habibullah "a kind of kung-fu kick" to the abdomen as the man shouted "Allah" several times.
Habibullah died in December 2002, several days after being taken into U.S. custody.
Broady's trial, which will also take place at Fort Bliss, begins later this week.
Patterson said a third officer was with Greatorex and Broady when Habibullah was abused, but that she cannot call his name and that he did not strike the prisoner. She acknowledge that she should have reported the incident when it happened, but instead wrote in a log only that Habibullah had been reprimanded.
Greatorex is one of nine soldiers who have been charged in several abuse cases. At issue in many of those cases has been the use of the knee strikes, known as a common peroneal strike.
During a pretrial hearing, Greatorex's Army lawyer has argued that another soldier is guilty of the abuse and that Greatorex was mistakenly identified. The lawyer, Capt. Juan Roman, said Greatorex is often confused with the other soldier.
Roman contends that a missing set of log books from the detention center can prove his claim.
The books, which military investigators said have vanished but probably contain no evidence of prisoner abuse, have been discussed in other soldiers' trials. Lawyers for former Pvt. Willie V. Brand of Cincinnati, a reservist who was convicted of severely beating another detainee who also later died, argued that the books' value is impossible to know since they cannot be located.
Brand is among several soldiers who have been convicted or pleaded guilty to abuse and other charges.
Charges against former Sgt. James P. Boland, another Ohio reservist, were dropped and he was simply reprimanded.
Broady's family has remained supportive of him since charges were filed.
"The family is standing behind Darin 150 percent," said brother Keith Broady, after charges were filed last month. "There's nothing we wouldn't do for him."
Keith Broady said his brother "has impeccable character and more experience (in law enforcement) that most officers. He knows not to kick someone when they're down and not to mistreat them."
According to Keith Broady, his brother was "totally shocked" when he was recalled to active duty and learned of the court martial. "He felt like he was railroaded," he brother said. "Darin is a pillar of his community."
Sellersburg Police Chief Pat Bradshaw has said Broady is one of his department's most respected officers, and is frequently requested for special details to area schools.
09/03/2005 - Criminal charges have been dismissed against a South Bend police officer charged with nine felonies because his case languished too long in the system.
It's unclear exactly who dropped the ball, but most sources indicate the case died because the office of St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak failed to request a special prosecutor.
Cpl. Ronald Johnson had been facing four charges of failure to pay state taxes; four charges of theft; and a charge of corrupt business influence. All nine of the charges, filed in late September 2003, were felonies.
The charges covered September, October, November and December 1998, when Johnson was associated with Finnigan's Irish Pub, a former bar in downtown South Bend.
The bar allegedly had not paid sales tax to the state for the entire year, according to Stephanie McFarland, director of information for the Indiana Department of Revenue, but the five-year statute of limitations had expired for the first eight months.
For the same reason, the charges cannot be refiled, she said.
"We're disappointed with the outcome,'' McFarland said, because the state felt it had a strong case against Johnson.
Johnson did not respond to a telephone message and letter seeking comment from him.
Rich Albrecht, an investigator with the Department of Revenue, said in an affidavit filed with the charges that Johnson had been an owner, along with Julius Cheney, of a business called the Irish Blossom Corp. Johnson, who joined the police force Dec. 18, 1979, reportedly was a "silent partner'' in the bar because state law prohibits a police officer from holding a liquor license.
The corporation operated Finnigan's, which opened in June 1996 at 113 E. Wayne St. During the last four months of 1998, the affidavit says, the owners collected sales taxes of at least $7,961 but failed to pay those taxes to the state as required.
09/01/2005 - An Allen County resident filed an excessive force lawsuit Wednesday against a Fort Wayne police officer honored last year by an association for the mentally ill.
Officer Mark Bieker is a six-year-veteran of the Fort Wayne Police Department and a member of the department’s Crisis Intervention Team.
The lawsuit, filed by Manasseh B. Ogunsusi in Allen Superior Court, claims that Bieker kicked him in the back, causing serious injury even though he offered no physical resistance and made no threats.
A ccording to the suit, Ogunsusi received a message the night of July 21, 2004, that his brother’s home had been “shot up.” He decided to go pick up his brother and was carrying a licensed firearm for personal protection.
When Ogunsusi arrived at the home, he saw a large group of people outside so he drove down the street and parked. While walking to the house, he was stopped by officers Todd Hughes and Dan Ingram, the suit said.
Officer Bieker then arrived and asked Ogunsusi whether he had a weapon. He was ordered to put his hands on his head, which he did, and told the officers he had a gun and a permit for it under his shirt. When the officers tugged at his shirt Bieker allegedly kicked Ogunsusi hard in the back.
Ogunsusi “was knocked down to the ground and his face hit the pavement as a result of the kick. He was then detained, and asked whether he could see a doctor due to extreme pain from the kick to his back,” the lawsuit said.
He was originally charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting law enforcement, but the charge was later dismissed.
08/20/2005 - A former Carmel police officer who pleaded guilty to child molesting could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Paul E. Terry, 53, Westfield, was sentenced Thursday to a total of 50 years in prison with 10 years suspended and 10 years of probation.
Terry made no statement to the court, as he quietly listened to Hamilton County Superior Court Judge Daniel Pfleging read the sentences for one count of child molesting, a Class A felony, two counts of child molesting, both Class A misdemeanors, and one count of attempted child molesting, a Class C felony. Thirty-two other counts against Terry were dismissed in a plea agreement.
Pfleging also ordered Terry to undergo counseling and treatment for child sexual issues and alcohol substance abuse, as well as register as a sex offender and pay for counseling for the victim.
Terry also received credit for 579 days already served in jail.
"It really hits home when you do this kind of work, and one of your own law enforcement officers lets you down by doing this kind of thing," Leerkamp said.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp and Deputy Prosecutor Stephanie Smith said they both were pleased with the sentence.
"I'm glad it's over with, for the sake of everyone — the family especially," Leerkamp said. "I know that (the victim), until that day came, she just couldn't be quite sure that this was going to be behind her."
News of the molestations in January 2004 stunned the community as well as law enforcement officers, who were shocked at hearing a fellow officer and 28-year veteran of the Carmel Police Department had been arrested.
During the sentencing hearing Thursday, Smith read a statement written by the female victim, who was present in the courtroom. Her letter stated that Terry, a trusted family friend, molested her from the time she was 7 years old until she was 10.
"During these years I kept a dark secret from my family," she said. "Thanks to my family, I got through it."
She also charged Terry showed her pornographic materials and gave her alcohol.
The girl stated she finally told a brother about the incidents, and he convinced her to talk to her parents.
Leerkamp said the defendant had a special position of trust with the victim's family and with the community.
"The words of this victim speak louder in this courtroom than anything else at this time," she said.
The victim's father also addressed the court and called Terry a coward.
"You're watching a parent's worst nightmare unfold before you," he said. "I hope he never sees the light of day again outside of this courtroom."
Pfleging expressed his sympathy to the girl and her family. "There's nothing we can do to make anything whole again," he said.
Pfleging said little to Terry, who entered the courtroom on crutches because of a deteriorating health condition.
"Twenty years in the Department of Correction isn't very great, just because of your physical condition," he said. He hoped Terry would be able to get some exercise during his incarceration and get better.
The father of the victim was not as kind.
"I feel that police officers that molest children should go straight to Hell," he said. "That's how I feel."
08/13/2005 - HAMMOND - The Board of Public Works and Safety can expect to hear lengthy testimony next week about whether police Sgt. George Gavrilos helped cover up a fellow officer's drunken driving eight years ago.
Gavrilos' attorneys deny that the veteran officer blew into a blood-alcohol analysis machine to cover up the drinking of former Lt. Thomas Hanna, who threatened a teen with his service weapon before crashing his city car into another police car in 1997.
The city public works board must decide whether to accept Police Chief Brian Miller's recommendation to fire Gavrilos. The board has jurisdiction any time a police officer receives discipline harsher than a five-day suspension.
The public hearing had been scheduled for Thursday, but was delayed for at least the third time to give attorneys from both sides enough time to prepare their cases. The hearing was rescheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 18.
The three-member public works board is made up of city Controller Barbara Cardwell, City Engineer Stanley Dostatni and Corporation Counsel Joseph O'Connor -- all of whom are appointed by the mayor.
O'Connor said he could not comment on whether a settlement with Gavrilos was in the works.
"Since my office is handling the prosecution, we have no comment on whether there are discussions on the case," O'Connor said, adding that he will recuse himself from deliberations and voting on the matter.
Attorney Gilbert Blackmun, who is representing the city in the hearing, declined to say exactly who would be called as witnesses in the hearing. He expected the testimony would come mostly from former or current police officers and would last at least two full days.
On Jan. 21, 1997, Hanna was at the Calumet Tap drinking with fellow officers and then-Mayor Duane Dedelow Jr. According to court testimony, Hanna left the club and drove around town threatening unarmed citizens with his service weapon.
On his way home, he smashed his unmarked city car into rookie officer John Muta's patrol car, which was parked on the side of the road for a traffic stop. Muta was injured in the crash and eventually received a $28,000 city settlement.
Immediately after the crash Hanna was taken to police headquarters in City Hall, where a blood-alcohol analysis machine showed that he had blood-alcohol concentration of zero.
Prosecutors later alleged that another officer who hadn't been drinking had blown into the machine for Hanna. A Lake County grand jury indicted six officers, including Hanna and Gavrilos, for covering up the crime.
But the cover-up indictments were dropped because five of the officers were never notified they were targets of the probe and entitled to legal protection against self-incrimination. Hanna was found guilty of misdemeanor reckless driving and intimidation in 2000 and retired from the police force.
In 2002, Gavrilos and three others sued the city for requiring them to perform community service while on two years of paid leave during the investigation. The four eventually received $5,625 each from the city as settlement of their complaint.
The Hanna affair arose again in 2004, when incoming Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. directed Miller to open a new internal probe. Miller decided in March to fire Gavrilos.
08/08/2005- As the police commission completed its unanimous vote to fire the beleaguered 13-year veteran, Pardus stood, shook the nearby garbage can, slammed out the door and squealed his tires as he sped out of the parking lot.
“In all my years as a citizen in this community, as a police officer and elected official, I’ve never seen a gentleman as out of control like I’ve seen Mr. Pardus,” Commissioner James Fleming said in his motion.
Except for a brief discussion on procedural matters, none of the other commissioners commented on the termination. They all watched as Pardus made his noisy exit from the Public Safety Facility.
If he’d stayed, he would have heard Gary Police Civil Service Commission members decide to put his other disciplinary matters on hold until they’re sure Pardus won’t win an appeal on Thursday night’s action.
The board is expecting a recommendation soon on charges Pardus violated a direct order by portraying himself as a police officer after Chief Garnett Watson placed the Merrill-ville resident on paid administrative leave and suspended his police powers.
Watson took the action in October after receiving Pardus’ psychiatric evaluation in connection with an unrelated disciplinary matter.
The board on Thursday voted to reject a hearing officer’s recommendation that Pardus serve a 30-day unpaid suspension after Pardus was charged with failing to turn in a handgun with an obliterated serial number.
Pardus appealed the recommendation, claiming he meant to turn in the pistol he found in Aetna while assisting his father, an insurance agent who was evaluating a property there.
The gun was discovered when Pardus’ SUV was repossessed from the police department parking lot last year. Although the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the incident, no criminal charges were filed against Pardus.
Pardus is appealing another disciplinary matter in Lake Circuit Court. He has also filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city, claiming Watson has discriminated against him and violated his civil rights.
07/08/2005 - GreenCastle, Ind. - A Greencastle police officer has been placed on administrative leave following allegations that he exposed himself and sexually harassed women, RTV6 reported Thursday.
Sgt. Sam Sellers, 36, faces six allegations of misconduct. Police said that he is accused on one occasion of visiting a 911 dispatch center and handing a female dispatcher a note asking for oral sex.
Sellers also is accused of grabbing his genital area and verbally harassing the dispatcher on another occasion, police said.
06/23/2005 - Elkhart, Ind. — A warrant has been issued for a former police officer and attorney from Indiana who is wanted in connection with an armed robbery last week at the National City Bank branch in Moline.
Clifton Bruce Davidson Jr. is being sought in connection with the June 16 crime.
Moline police said a man walked into the bank branch, displayed a handgun and demanded money. The suspect was described as white, with a large build and in his 40s. He was wearing a baseball or golf-style cap, blue jeans and a long-sleeved, pullover golf-style jacket.
After the robber left with the cash, police said a customer saw a vehicle go through a nearby mall and then speed away from the area. The vehicle had an Indiana license plate, 49E8616, which belongs to a Ford Explorer registered out of Indianapolis.
Davidson has been followed by controversy during careers as a police officer and lawyer.
According to records, he moved to the Indianapolis area after being fired from his job as an Elkhart police officer in 1995. Elkhart is a city in north-central Indiana.
Davidson was president of the Elkhart Fraternal Order of Police in 1994 when a letter in The Truth, a newspaper published there, accused him of being soft on crime and abusing unspecified police privileges. The letter was signed by a reserve police officer who eventually admitted that then-Mayor James Perron actually wrote the letter.
Davidson later filed a defamation suit against Perron, the city and its insurance company. The case was transferred from Elkhart County to Kosciusko County, where it was thrown out and subsequently reinstated. By the time the case went to a jury trial in 2002, Davidson had earned his law degree and was working as a lawyer in Marion County.
Kosciusko County jurors ruled that the letter defamed Davidson and awarded him $200,000. Perron eventually dropped an appeal after reaching a settlement for an amount "far less" than the jurors' award, Perron said.
The Indiana Supreme Court removed Davidson's law license last fall after finding him guilty on six counts of misconduct. He was accused of taking clients' money for lawsuits that never were filed or on which he did little work.
The Supreme Court found that Davidson had engaged in a "serious pattern of neglect of his clients." He failed to appear for the disciplinary proceedings after they were initiated in March 2004, according to court documents.
According to the order, he accepted retainers and filing fees from some clients, but did not file court papers on their behalf. In other cases, documents were filed, but clients who had hired Davidson were unable to contact him about the progress of their cases. He later abandoned his legal practice, the order stated.
Although an FBI spokesman said he could not comment on the case because it is a pending investigation, local authorities in Elkhart and some of Davidson's former co-workers have been notified that he is wanted in connection with the Moline robbery.
Davidson's mother, Bonnie Miller of Bristol, Ind., declined to discuss the robbery accusations. But she did share some thoughts from her family.
"This is not the Bruce we know and love," she said. "Bruce has many people who support him and know this is not the Bruce Davidson they know. His family and close friends are standing 100 percent by his side. God is surely with him at this time. He is not alone.
"My daughter said, ‘Mom, this is not the Bruce we know. This is somebody different.' Wherever he's at, maybe he will see this."
06/07/2005 -Tim Gilbert, a Perry County sheriff's deputy accustomed to placing others in custody, was himself in handcuffs and shackles Thursday morning -- recaptured after a nighttime flight from the county jail.
The 45-year-old Gilbert, placed on paid leave for the past month pending an investigation by state police, escaped Wednesday night while being booked on a Class A felony charge of child molesting. The ensuing search involved more than 30 sheriff's deputies, state police and officers from Tell City and Cannelton. They fanned out across Tell City and Cannelton before locating Gilbert, about four hours later, hiding under a trailer near Tell City's floodwall, on property once owned by Maxon Marine.
Gilbert was taken into custody without incident and faces an afternoon hearing Thursday in Perry Circuit Court.
State police from the Sellersburg Indiana State Police Post arrested Gilbert at 6:50 p.m. Wednesday. Still living at 632 Ninth St. in Tell City, Gilbert was working at Jeff Boat in Jeffersonville, Ky. when arrested.
Troopers obtained their arrest warrant after receiving allegations late last month from from a 16-year-old girl, who said Gilbert molested her. The alleged molestation started when the girl was 9 and continued, she said, over several months. The News also has learned that troopers searched Gilbert's home Wednesday, but the affidavit for the search warrant was not immediately available when the courthouse opened Thursday morning.
Gilbert was returned to Perry County Wednesday night and while being booked into the jail around 8:30, fled on foot. Troopers apparently placed Gilbert in a booking room and then locked a door that leads to the front of the jail. But Gilbert, a 10-year-veteran of the department, walked down a hallway and entered the jail's office area. He then fled from the west side of space used by former sheriffs as a living area.
Officers in cars and on foot spread out across the area, but focused their search in a wooded area around River Road, between Tell City and Cannelton. Approximately two hours later, an officer on foot reported seeing someone walking in the area. After securing a perimeter from near Cannelton to Sunset Park in Tell City, officers began their search, using a canine unit from Rockport. An hour later, officers walking inside a fenced area of the former Maxon Marine property -- now owned by Tell City but leased to the county's port authority -- discovered Gilbert under the trailer.
Dressed in a gray T-shirt, Gilbert let fly a string of profanities at officers and a News editor while being led to a waiting police car. Gilbert was taken to Perry County Memorial Hospital as a precaution and then transported back to the county jail.
Gilbert has been on paid leave for more than a month while state police conducted what Sheriff Bob Glenn said was a possible criminal investigation. Results of that probe were turned over to County Attorney Chris Goffinet earlier this month, but the molestation allegations against Gilbert apparently surfaced May 23.
Glenn confirmed last week that troopers were looking at new allegations.
Gilbert was first in hot water in March, when he was suspended without pay for 10 days for failing to respond to a 911 call to investigate the death of a Magnet man.
County Prosecutor Robert Collins said new charges against Gilbert, including escape, will be filed.
05/28/2005 - An Indianapolis police officer was sentenced to a year of probation Monday and admitted he was drunk when he crashed his personal truck into another vehicle.
Marion Superior Court Judge Linda Brown also ordered Adrian Aurs, 31, to undergo an alcohol abuse evaluation and attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim-impact panel. Aurs' driver's license was suspended for 90 days.
No one was seriously injured Dec. 7 when Aurs, who was off duty, crashed his Chevrolet pickup truck into a Volkswagen sedan on I-65, near the Keystone Avenue exit on the Southside. Aurs suffered a cut on his forehead.
Indiana State Police arrested Aurs after he refused to submit to a field-sobriety test.
Defense attorney John Kautzman said Aurs regrets his actions and apologizes to the other motorist.
"What this shows is the officer knew he was in the wrong," Kautzman said. "He has committed to himself and to the department that nothing like this will ever happen again."
The East District patrolman, on the force for more than five years, was treated the same as any other defendant, prosecutor's office spokesman Roger Rayl said.
After the incident, the department suspended Aurs for 14 days and reassigned him to desk duty.
Sgt. Judy Phillips, a department spokeswoman, said internal affairs will complete its investigation this week and submit a report to Chief Michael Spears.
Aurs will remain on desk duty while Spears decides if further administrative punishment is necessary, Phillips said.
According to court records, Aurs and his passenger, Brook Nicole Fleetwood, 22, Bedford, were southbound in the center lane of I-65 when Aurs swerved into a 2004 Volkswagen driven by Amy Beth Boaz-Pawlus, 32, Columbus. Boaz-Pawlus lost control, was struck a second time by Aurs' truck and then came to a stop in the center lane.
Aurs' truck went off the road and down an embankment. He ran over a fence line before crashing into a tree, records say.
05/28/2005 - 15-year-old boy who shouted profanities at a police officer during an investigation was exercising his right to free speech, the Indiana Court of Appeals has found.
The court unanimously overturned the youth's juvenile conviction in Marion Superior Court for disorderly conduct, finding that his remarks protesting an officer's treatment of a companion were permissible under the Indiana Constitution.
In June 2004, police responded to a report of juveniles spray-painting graffiti on a garage. An officer found the youth and his companion sitting in the back seat of a vehicle and told them to put their hands up.
But the youth's companion let his hands drop. "(Expletive) you!" the youth reportedly told the officer. "He can't keep his arms up -- his arms hurt."
The officer ordered him to stop yelling, but the youth continued shouting after he and his companion were removed from the vehicle, police said.
"You guys are all racists; (expletive) the police," the youth said.
Because he was a juvenile, the court opinion referred to him as "U.M." rather than using his name.
"Although we do not agree with the manner in which U.M. conducted himself . . . U.M. was expressing himself regarding the legality and appropriateness of police conduct toward his companion," appellate court Senior Judge George B. Hoffman Jr. wrote.
Legal experts say that while free speech does not permit someone to obstruct police or sway others to violence, protection does extend to someone whose words merely offend.
An expert in constitutional law said the appeals court decision was consistent with other interpretations of free speech.
"The core of First Amendment freedom is the right to criticize the state in the exercise of political power," said Andrew Koppelman, a Northwestern University law professor. "The idea is that you can't have a democracy if government gets to shut down people who are criticizing" it.
The youth's attorney was unavailable for comment Friday, and the Indiana attorney general's office declined to comment.
The state filed a petition alleging the youth to be a delinquent child. A juvenile court found he committed disorderly conduct, which would be a misdemeanor if committed by an adult.
But the appellate court in its decision Thursday agreed with the youth's position that police could not charge him with disorderly conduct simply for criticizing the officer's behavior. The opinion did not identify the police agency involved.
A spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Police Department said officers have learned to deal with verbal abuse but warned that it can't cross the line.
"By nature we do have to have thick skins, and I think most of us do," Sgt. Judy Phillips said. "We understand that there's people out there who have that mentality or feel like we could be out to get them.
"But when they take it to the level of being disorderly and inciting crowds or such, that's the concern that we have."
Though the state argued that the youth had abused his right of free speech, the appeals court found his comments caused no true harm.
The court cited a section of the state constitution that says "no law shall be passed restraining the free interchange of thought and opinion, or restricting the right to speak."
David Orentlicher, an Indiana University law professor and Democratic state representative from Indianapolis, said words alone do not give police license to punish people who fault their actions.
"You can't have a free society if people aren't allowed to criticize authority," Orentlicher said.
05/22/2005 - Shelbyville - Two veteran officers of the Shelbyville Police Department are fighting to keep their jobs. The head of the department wants them off the force.
Two Shelbyville police officers were recently investigated on a host of allegations by a special prosecutor. The probe didn't produce any criminal charges, but Police Chief John West wants both men fired.
"I feel like there was a lot of baggage left behind for us and we're cleaning that up," said West.
West believes Sgt. Terry Wadsworth and Lt. Robert Brinkman Jr. were involved in conduct unbecoming an officer. Both are on administrative leave, with pay, until after a hearing by the city's board of public works and safety.
"We're always under the microscope but also it sends a message out to everybody that we're going to clean up all the problems we've had over the years and the new Shelbyville Police Department isn't going to tolerate this kind of conduct," said Chief West.
West says those problems include former Chief Kehrt Etherton, who's off the force and awaiting trial for theft charges. The chief says he's trying to steer his department into a new direction - one that will bring about a positive public perception.
Shelbyville's mayor, Scott Furgeson, says despite the apparent police issues facing his town of 18,000, he doesn't feel those who live here have gone unprotected.
"I think even before I was mayor and we've had these problems going on three to four years now. I don't think public safety has ever been jeopardized in any way, shape or form," said Furgeson, who heads the board that will decide the officers' future.
Shelbyville's Police Department probe came from within when a group of officers filed a federal lawsuit. That produced 37 separate allegations of misconduct, all of which were looked into.
The hearing for these two officers, who are on administrative leave with pay, is set for June 20th.
Officers Involved: Paul Woods
9/05/2004 -- Officer Paul Woods, 37, is charged with obstructing traffic and official misconduct after police Sgt. David Wisneski obtained a warrant for his arrest.
The criminal charges surprised Washington Township Constable John D. O'Hara, who said police officers, including deputy constables, occasionally block traffic. Woods was wearing a badge and directing traffic. "Here you had a police car with flashing lights on and safety cones," O'Hara said. "This may be the first charge of that kind in Indiana history." Wisneski, in his affidavit seeking criminal charges, said Woods swore at him after Wisneski explained that he could not block traffic on a city street for a private event without a permit. Woods' police car was actually his personal sedan, unmarked but equipped with authorized police emergency lights.
October 19, 2004 - Michael Farmer keeps photographs to document his fight with an off-duty Indianapolis Police officer. Farmer and Officer Frank Hittel got into it last October.
The fight happened at the Brass Flamingo Strip Bar.
"He pretty much black my eye, cut my nose with his ring, chipped one of my front teeth and broke the whole row of the back ones and pretty much knocked me out of my chair," recalls Farmer. That chair is his wheelchair. Farmer is a paraplegic. He lost the use of his legs after a car crash.
Prosecutors originally charged Officer Hittel with battery. But in court Tuesday morning Hittel pled guilty to disorderly conduct.
Prosecutors say after interviewing witnesses from the bar that night it was unclear exactly what sparked the fight.
Deputy Prosecutor John Commons adds, "By allowing him to plead guilty to that charge we didn't have to run the risk of going to trial and possibility of him being found not guilty."
"I guess I got a conviction, so that's all that really matters," says Farmer. "It seems like they smacked him on the wrist and let him walk."
The judge gave Hittel 180 days in jail suspended plus a $250 fine.
As for Farmer, he's still trying to come up with money to pay medical bills. "I still got to go get dental work done, stuff like that. Nobody likes to go to the dentist."
Farmer says he showed up for court prepared for a trial. But he's at least satisfied that court records reflect the officer's conviction and punishment for his conduct.
That's not the only punishment for Officer Hittel. Police Chief Jerry Barker also suspended him for 90 days without pay.
Paraplegic Farmer says he's undecided about filing a civil suit against Hittel. He feels Hittel should pay for his medical bills.
June 26, 2004 - THORNTON -- A Lynwood police chief who was fired amid charges of professional misconduct was arrested in Thornton after allegedly spitting in an officer's face and using racial slurs against him.
David Panozzo, 47, of Thornton, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, resisting a police officer and disorderly conduct at 12:21 a.m.
Wednesday at 7-11, 103 W. Margaret St., in connection with the incident.
According to police, a Thornton police officer was on his lunch break at the 7-11 when he noticed Panozzo taking a 40-ounce bottle of beer from the liquor cooler. Panozzo allegedly asked the officer, "Why are you staring at me." When the officer said he wasn't staring, Panozzo allegedly called him a racist.
The officer said Panozzo repeatedly refused orders to leave the store, dropping and breaking two bottles of beer, swearing at the officer, calling him a racist and using racial slurs against the black officer.
When the officer ordered Panozzo to get out of the doorway of the store, Panozzo allegedly spat in the officer's face.
The officer placed Panozzo on the ground as the former police chief allegedly resisted, continuing to use racial slurs against the officer.
Police said Panozzo had the odor of alcohol on his breath at the time of the incident.
Panozzo requested assistance from paramedics, who transported him to South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest. His father drove him to the Thornton Police Station from the hospital.
Police said the encounter was captured on the store's security surveillance camera.
Panozzo appeared Friday for a bond hearing at the 6th District Cook County Courthouse in Markham and was released on his own recognizance. The former chief also was ordered to report to social services and to take a drug test.
June 4, 2004 - A Washington Township deputy constable directing traffic at a funeral wake is facing up to a year in jail after he refused an Indianapolis Police sergeant's order to move his car from a no-parking zone.
The township officer, Paul Woods, 37, was charged with obstructing traffic and official misconduct after Sgt. David Wisneski obtained a warrant for his arrest.
Neither Woods, who made his initial appearance today in a Marion County Superior , nor Wisneski could be reached for comment.
The criminal charges surprised Washington Township Constable John D. O'Hara, who said police officers, including deputy constables, occasionally block traffic. Woods was wearing a badge from his neck and directing traffic.
"Here you had a police car with flashing lights on and safety cones. This may be the first charge of that kind in Indiana history."
Wisneski, in his affidavit seeking criminal charges, said Woods swore at him after Wisneski explained that he could not block traffic on a city street for a private event without a permit.
The event was an informal memorial dinner for Alonzo L. "Nate Dogg" Davidson, a 22-year-old biker who was killed May 21 when his motorcycle crashed into a school bus on East 21st Street.
The dinner was sponsored by the Eastside auto body shop where Davidson worked. Tables of food were set up in the garage's three bays, and about 400 people began arriving Saturday afternoon, after Davidson's casket was taken to the cemetery in a hearse carriage drawn by a three-wheeler, said Danny Graham, the owner of the garage.
Woods was directing the motorcycles and cars into three different lots and keeping the street cleared, Graham said.
The garage is located in the 3900 block of East 21st Street, directly across from an Indianapolis Department of Public Works fuel pump, which is used by IPD officers and other city employees.
S.A. Tinnin-Bey, who was at the dinner, said Woods' car was in the closest lane of the road, which is two lanes in each direction there. "If it wasn't for Paul, it probably would have been worse than it was," Tinnin-Bey said.
According to Wisneski's account, however, he was called to the scene after other IPD officers tried to keep a crowd of people from blocking traffic and were treated rudely.
May 27, 2004 - The board contemplating the fate of five Seymour police officers accused of department misconduct plans to hold a hearing at 3 p.m. Friday at city hall to determine what if any discipline they face.
The city board of public works and safety received evidence during a hearing May 5 from attorney Jeffrey Lorenzo, representing the police department, and Leo Blackwell, the attorney for the five officers, Sgt. Anthony Prewitt, Cpls. Kevin Hall, J.B. Hamblin and Bruce M. Peak and Officer Jayson Kaiser.
The five are accused of misconduct on election night.
Members of that board are Mike Jordan and Mary Voss. A third board member, Mayor Jim Bullard, recused himself from the case because the five officers supported his successful run for mayor in 2003.
April 9, 2004 - Indiana State Police have concluded their investigation into a misconduct complaint against a Clay County sheriff's deputy.
Now the case rests with county Prosecutor Dave Thomas, who said Thursday that the accusation against Deputy Jeff Maynard is still under review.
A Clay City woman has alleged that Maynard made sexual innuendoes and pushed her during a Feb. 28 traffic stop.
The woman, who is in her 30s, claimed the deputy suggested she could get out of a ticket in exchange for exposing her chest.
When she declined, the woman said Maynard pushed her with a clipboard, which resulted in her falling to the ground. She also alleged Maynard grabbed her chest and was verbally abusive during the traffic stop along Indiana 59.
The woman has said a second officer, reserve deputy Mike Deakins, was a witness to a portion of the incident and actually signed the ticket, written for driving with a suspended driver's license.
Last month, Clay County Sheriff Rob Carter requested the State Police investigate. State Police 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten said
April 4, 2004 - An Indiana State University police officer has been fired after an internal investigation into an off-duty road rage incident, university records show.
Pete Tanoos, 42, of Terre Haute was accused of violating seven campus police department orders as result of a Dec. 18 incident along U.S. 41. Among the allegations were that he committed officer misconduct, criminal conduct, made false statements and inappropriately used his police powers while off-duty.
According to a January complaint by a former Terre Haute resident, Tanoos – a six-year member of the campus police -- yelled obscenities and threats and spit on the other man.
Tanoos has claimed otherwise, that he attempted to subdue a reckless driver when the other man spit on him and attacked him, kicking at him and hitting him in the face.
An internal campus police investigation resulted in Tanoos' suspension without pay for five days in February before he was terminated.
Tanoos appealed, but the decision to fire him was supported by a university vice president and eventually by university President Lloyd Benjamin on March 15, university memos show.
A support staff grievance appeals committee, which conducted a March 1 hearing, found only that Tanoos used faulty judgment during the incident.
The chairman of the group, Don Bonsall, wrote in a memo that the committee upheld Tanoos' dismissal "under the narrow grounds that Mr. Tanoos' behavior immediately before and during the altercation ... represented poor judgment on his part, judgment that is not acceptable in a police officer at Indiana State University."
ISU records indicate the complaint was not the first filed against Tanoos. In all, an estimated 17 complaints or concerns about job-related conduct have been brought to the attention of police supervisors since 1998, according to a letter to Tanoos from D. Thomas Ramey, the university's vice president for student affairs.
Officers Involved: James Cather and Scott Charleswood
4/26/2004 -- Saturday police said two sheriff's deputies were legally drunk when they allegedly fled the scene of a crash. Officers say that deputy James Carther hit another vehicle and left the scene. The victim called police, and officers also received another call from a motorist who followed the deputies. Officers pulled over Carther where he was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. Cather had a blood-alcohol level of .09 percent. Charles wood was arrested for public intoxication.
Officer Involved: Brian G. Lemond, 31
04/20/2004 -- Officer Brian G. Lemond was sentenced to one year probation for D.U.I. Lemond was off duty, was driving drunk in an unmarked police vehicle at about 100 mph.