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IMPD officer suspended without pay after altercation with student

Posted: 10:12 AM, Aug 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-31 21:15:43-04
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INDIANAPOLIS — An IMPD officer has been suspended without pay after a video appears to show the officer striking a teenager at an Indianapolis high school.

The incident, which was captured on video and has been shared widely on social media, happened as an officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department warned the mother of the juvenile she was about to be arrested for disorderly conduct, the police records show.

The officer involved in the incident has been suspended without pay while investigations are underway, IMPD Chief Bryan Roach said in a statement Saturday morning.

You can read his full statement below:

Over the last 36 hours, IMPD leadership has spent time reviewing the video of Thursday’s incident at Shortridge High School and engaged in extensive internal discussions. The video shows a clear image of a closed fist punch to the face, a technique which is not taught or reasonable given the facts known to us at this time. The incident has been turned over to investigators, who understand this case is a priority and have been advised to be as timely as possible. In the meantime, the officer is currently suspended without pay. The facts brought forward through the ongoing investigations in both the criminal and administrative processes will then be used to determine any final decisions.

According to the report, the student's "face was clinched in anger and both hands were balled into a fist." The student then moved his right shoulder back and bladed his body, the officer said in the report. The officer stated in the report that with his training and experience the student was taking a fighting stance.

The officer, fearing that the student was about to strike him, threw an open hand palm strike, making contact with the student's left cheek/neck area to create distance and stun the student to keep from getting hit. The report states the palm strike was successful and the student was knocked around and officers were able to handcuff him without any further incident.

Also in the reports obtained by RTV6, an IMPD sergeant reported seeing the student "swing his fist at (the officer) a split second before (the officer) threw a palm strike, however (the student) did not make contact."

Video of the incident, which began circulating on social media Thursday, appears to show the officer striking the teenager, who then falls to the ground, following a verbal argument between the two. The video contains graphic images and language.

Officials with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said officers were called to Shortridge High School just after 1:20 p.m. Thursday on report of a large fight inside the school. Here is the statement released Friday afternoon by IMPD:

Yesterday, IMPD officers were called to assist IPS Police inside Shortridge High School on a large fight. When officers arrived, they learned that there was a juvenile male on scene who IPS police had in custody. IMPD officers were flagged down by staff to assist with a parent during the lockdown. During the course of the investigation, force was used by an IMPD officer. An IMPD supervisor arrived to conduct a preliminary investigation, per policy. In addition, the IMPD Internal Affairs Unit has been directed to conduct an internal investigation of the incident. The involved officer has been placed on administrative leave. We encourage anyone with any additional information or video to come forward, as it will assist with the internal investigation

Indianapolis Public Schools issued the following statement:

Indianapolis Public Schools requested support from IMPD yesterday at Shortridge High School due to an altercation that took place among students inside the building. The District has learned that following that altercation, there was an incident involving an IMPD officer striking an IPS student. We are fully engaged in and investigating this matter, while taking every step at the building level and from central office to ensure the safety and well-being of our students.

IPS superintendent Aleesia Johnson also released a statement on social media:

As a black woman and a mother of black children, it isn’t possible to watch the video of the incident that occurred yesterday at Shortridge without immediately thinking about the other incidents in our country that occur between white police officers and black people, especially males. Often, I am left feeling a number of emotions — devastation often chief among them.

RTV6 talked to the woman seen on the now viral video who said the chain of events began with a fight at the school involving her son, a cousin and other students.

The woman, whom RTV6 is not identifying in order to not identify the juveniles involved, said her son and a cousin were "jumped" by a group of students. The woman said she was at the school to pick them up. As they were getting ready to leave she asked about getting their belongings from the school. An IPS officer initially told her she could retrieve their belongings, however, the IMPD officer told her she could not. As she and the boys were leaving, words were exchanged and the officer punched the cousin and kneed him in the back, she said.

Indianapolis attorney Terrance Kinnard has been retained by the family involved in the incident. Kinnard released the following statement:

I have been retained by the family involved in the events that took place at Shortridge High School on Aug. 29, 2019. Like many, we are shocked by the behavior depicted in the video currently circulating on social media networks. Over the coming days my staff and I will investigate all of the facts before deciding on a proper course of action. In the meanwhile, I urge the public to allow the investigation to take place in an orderly fashion. We will have no further comment until I have completed my investigation and become properly informed of all of the facts.

The organization Indianapolis Black Lives Matter is demanding the officer involved be fired for his actions during the incident. The officer is white while the student is black.

"Yet another case of racist police terror was captured this week in Indianapolis," said Black Lives Matter in a statement issued Friday.