Officer Denies Stealing Thousands From Drivers

Officer David Butler: 'I Would Never Disrespect The Badge'

An Indianapolis police officer accused of stealing thousands of dollars from drivers during traffic stops pleaded not guilty Thursday, saying he was shocked by the allegations.

Officer David Butler, 51, a 23-year veteran with the department, faces two counts of robbery and two counts of official misconduct.

An internal investigation was launched three months ago after accusations that Butler, while in uniform and driving a police vehicle, made traffic stops on Indianapolis' northwest side, stealing money and threatening to arrest the Hispanic male drivers.

The first report was made in early January when Emiliano Vasquez said he was pulled over at the Marathon Station at 5502 W. 34th St.

Vasquez said Butler ordered him to leave his wallet and cell phone on the driver's seat and stand by the back of the truck while he searched the vehicle. Later, Vasquez said he later noticed $700 from a paycheck he had recently cashed was missing.

That incident prompted investigators to look into other cases in which drivers had claimed an officer stole money during a traffic stop.

Police said they determined Butler was also involved in a similar theft on Sept. 27, 2010, in a bank parking lot in the 3400 block of North High School Road.

The driver in that case said he was stopped by an officer who searched his vehicle and threatened to arrest him. After the stop, the man said he noticed $1,500 he was saving to send to Mexico was missing from his wallet.

In both incidents, police said business surveillance video captured Butler making the traffic stops.

"We want to look at the evidence. First, examine very bit of evidence, witness statements. I understand there is a video. Once we get that, we'll make a statement," said Butler's attorney, Robert Turner.

Butler told 6News' Derrik Thomas outside court Thursday that the allegations are false.

"In my 23 years, I've never been accused of anything like this," he said. "I am innocent of these charges. I would never do anything to disrespect the badge or this department, or my family."

Butler was suspended without pay and will be recommended for termination.

Indianapolis Public Safety Director Frank Straub applauded the arrest.

"We will not tolerate aberrant behavior, criminal behavior, by any of our employees," he said. "We will move quickly to resolve these issues and bring these officers to justice."

Anyone who may have been involved in a similar incident on the city's northwest side or has more information about the case is asked to contact Detective Shani Anderson with the department's Professional Standards Division at 317-327-2944.

"We do encourage members of the public, if they do have info about this case, they should call the government tip line at 317-327-2700," said Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Anne Harrigan. "We always ask for more info from anyone to further our prosecution of cases."

Indianapolis police has requested the media not show Butler's face because they’re concerned doing so will compromise possible future cases against him.