INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Chief Randal Taylor said Tuesday that a police sergeant had been charged with using excessive force for his actions during a September arrest.
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office filed two formal charges against IMPD Sgt. Eric Huxley. Prosecutors charged him with official misconduct and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury.
The charges come after a routine investigation into an allegation of excessive force that occurred on Sept. 24, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The body-worn camera video of the incident shows a man handcuffed and on the ground when Huxley "lifts his left leg, and drives his left foot down" into the man's face, according to the affidavit. Blood is visible on the man's mouth "within seconds."
According to the affidavit, Huxley can be heard in another officer's body-worn camera video saying, "I accidentally kicked him in his face. I was attempting to put my foot on his shoulder, and I accidentally kicked him in his face."
You can watch the video released by IMPD below. Note: This video contains graphic content.
Taylor has suspended Huxley without pay, IMPD Lt. Shane Foley said. The other officers involved in the incident are on administrative duties while the internal investigation is ongoing.
Taylor has recommended that the department fire Huxley. He also ordered a review of past use of force incidents by all three officers involved in the case.
According to the affidavit, Jermaine Vaughn, the man who was stomped on by Huxley, told detectives that he was "practicing his First Amendment right to free speech" at Indianapolis' Monument Circle on Sept. 24 when police were called to the scene to deal with a "disruptive person."
Vaughn, who told a detective Thursday that he's been experiencing homelessness for about a year, alleged that the officer was inside his vehicle and they spoke peacefully, according to the affidavit. The officer got out of his car, and the man said he heard the officer asking for assistance.
He told the detective he continued to talk and yell when the officer asked him to leave the area, according to the affidavit. When he started walking towards his bags, two more officers arrived. While Vaughn and one of the officers were yelling at each other, the officer told the man he was "under arrest."
While Vaughn turned around to allow the officer to handcuff him, he was still yelling at the officers, according to the affidavit. One officer was holding on to him by the belt in his pants, so he wasn't able to back up when an officer pushed him back, sending him to the ground.
That's when body camera footage shows Huxley stomp on Vaughn's face, resulting in a cut lip.
Taylor was notified of the incident on Oct. 6 and immediately ordered an investigation, Foley said.
"I promised this community and I promise officers that I will be transparent — and that's in good times and bad times," Taylor said. "This is a bad time, but I think the community deserves it."
He said he understands some would be upset after watching the video.
"I understand after watching this video there's going to be some people who are upset, and we'll hope to mend those fences where we can," Taylor said. "My apology not only goes out to the men and women of IMPD that do it right but every other law enforcement officer in this state and in this country because I know these videos they're seeing, there's going be people that are going say, 'That's what they're all like.' Well, let me tell you, that's not what they're all like. We'll get through this."
In a statement released after Tuesday morning's press conference, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said the footage released is "deeply troubling" and "unacceptable from law enforcement in our city."
"I commend Chief Taylor's prompt response, as well as the department's continued commitment to transparency as they seek appropriate accountability for the officer involved," Hogsett said in the statement. "This incident underscores the importance of continuing to build community trust, and reinforces our resolve to maintain investments in the reforms, training, and technology that ensure accountability to the high standards of conduct expected by Indianapolis residents."
Indianapolis City-County Council President Vop Osili, D-District 11, said he condemns the actions of Huxley seen in the video and offered his sympathies to the man.
"As a member of the Council, I want to thank Chief Taylor for working collaboratively with the Council on increasing transparency, including through implementation of the body-worn cameras that captured this horrendous action," Osili said. "I am committed to working with IMPD leadership in the coming year to establish the early warning system funded this summer to detect and root out such problematic behavior."
Indianapolis City-County Council Public Safety Committee Chair Leroy Robinson, D-District 1, released the following statement.
"It is with great sadness that we all witnessed the IMPD body worn camera footage of the incident involving one of our homeless neighbors," Robinson said. "We are thankful that the gentlemen is recovering well from his injuries and equally thankful for the swift response from our Chief of Police and our Marion County Prosecutor. The Council's investment in body worn cameras is quickly providing the much needed transparency that our community has been pushing for."
You can watch the press conference below here:
This story was originally published by Andrew Smith and Alyssa Donovan on Scripps station WRTV in Indianapolis.