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IMPD officer accused of punching Shortridge HS student charged with battery and false reporting

Shortridge Incident.JPG
Posted at 11:30 AM, Sep 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-17 06:24:43-04

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer has been charged with battery and false reporting in connection with the physical altercation involving a 17-year-old Shortridge High School student earlier this month that was caught on video.

The Marion County Prosecutor announced Monday that IMPD Officer Robert Lawson is charged with Battery for allegedly striking the student "without a legitimate concern for self-defense." Officer Lawson is also facing addition charges of obstruction of justice, perjury, false informing and official misconduct in connection with "alleged false statements" made while reporting the incident in official documentation.

READ | IMPD officer suspended without pay after altercation with student

Lawson has been suspended without pay since at least two different videos that appear to show him striking the teen during an incident outside of the school went viral on social media.

New video shows different angle of Southridge High School incident between officer and student

"Officer Lawson is accused of making false statements under oath or affirmation in a probable cause affidavit submitted in support of arrest of the 17-year-old. The juvenile was not taken into custody, and no delinquency action has been filed against him in this matter," the press release issued by the prosecutor's office said.

"In the official documents allegedly prepared and signed by Officer Lawson on August 29, it states that he threw an open hand palm strike in fear that the 17-year-old was about to strike the him. Officer Lawson allegedly reports that the palm strike was successful, and officers were able to cuff the 17-year-old without any further force. These statements are believed to be false and contrary to video evidence which appears to show Officer Lawson striking the juvenile with a closed fist and continuing to use force including a knee strike to the juvenile’s abdomen or chest area."

Additionally, the prosecutor's office says Lawson reported that another officer present said she observed the teen swing at him a "split second" before he thre a palm strike. Investigators say the second officer denied making that statement or seeing the teen swing first.

READ | IMPD officer suspended wihtout pay after altercation with student

Officer Lawson is expected to turn himself in under arrangements made between his attorney and the Court.

Terrance Kinnard, the attorney representing the family of the teen involved issued the following statement Monday afternoon.

"It has come to my attention that criminal charges were filed today against IMPD Officer Robert Lawson. We believe the filing of charges was appropriate under the circumstances. We respect and trust in the judicial process and look forward to seeing a just result in the criminal matter as well as in our pending federal litigation. Out of respect for the state and federal judiciary, we will have no further comment on pending litigation at this time."

John Kautzman, the attorney representing Lawson issued the following statement early Tuesday morning.

" We look forward to a full and fair review of ALL the evidence in this case, including the officer's observations, perceptions and training as it relates to the entirety of this encounter. "

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Bryan Roach issued the following statement regarding the charges filed Monday.

"The IMPD Special Investigations Unit conducted a criminal investigation into the events that occurred at Shortridge High School on August 29, and presented findings to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. After the filing of formal criminal charges by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Officer Robert Lawson has been placed on suspension without pay, with a recommendation of termination to the civilian oversight Merit Board.

We strive to hold ourselves to a high standard and will continue to review this incident and others to identify ways we can improve as an agency. The women and men who serve our city remain focused on building trust with our neighbors and working together with the community to make Indianapolis a safer place for every resident."

IPS issued the following statement in response to the Marion County Prosecutor's announcement.

“Superintendent Aleesia Johnson and the IPS Board of School Commissioners are supportive of the decision made today by Prosecutor Curry. We will continue to monitor this situation as it is adjudicated. We will also continue to work with everyone in our community to make sure that all of our children are provided a safe and secure learning environment.”