INDIANAPOLIS — The initial response after seeing the video of an IMPD sergeant stomping on the face of a man who was being arrested triggered an emotional response for Marshawn Wolley.
"I was angry. I was shocked. I was frustrated that this was a supervisor that was doing this," Wolley, the Policy Director for the African-American Coalition of Indianapolis said.
Sgt. Eric Huxley is now facing charges of felony battery and official misconduct as a result.
"It showed that the work that the community has done to try and establish systems of accountability is necessary and needed, and this was just more evidence of that," Wolley added.
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor suspended Huxley and recommended he be fired from the force.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Taylor expressed the importance of transparency.
"I promised this community and I promised our officers that I would 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."
Wolley explained people from the community still want to know more, but he feels the Chief is sending the right message.
"I think there's a lot of questions still surrounding the incident, but I do think it is important that the Chief is sending a strong message to other officers that these kinds of things will not be tolerated," Wolley said.
During the incident, there were two other officers who were at the scene with Sgt. Huxley. WRTV wanted to learn more about exactly what was reported and by who. An IMPD spokesperson said since both the criminal and internal investigations are still active, they can't speak on the specifics just yet. What we do know is that a Blue Team Report was filed, which happens when there is a use of force allegation that's part of the department's use of force policy.
It was updated last year, stating the following:
VI. Officers will stop and report any use of force performed by themselves or another officer that violates applicable laws or department policies.
A. Officers have a duty to intervene to prevent or stop the use of excessive force by another officer, when it is safe and reasonable to do so.
B. Any officer who directly observes or has actual knowledge of a violation of this use of force policy must report it to a supervisor as soon as practical.
Wolley said now that these processes are in place, citizens are paying more attention, but right now, he feels we're seeing it play out in real-time whether the new policies work and what else needs to be done.
"There's been a lot of work both from the community perspective in partnership with police department to raise transparency, and accountability in the police department has been making a number of efforts in that regard," Wolley said. "But it's just always important to, you know, to trust but then also verify. I think that's where we are trying to understand the processes in place, but I think this is a step in the right direction."
Today, the Indianapolis Urban League (IUL) applauds the executive actions and commitment to increased transparency taken by IMPD Chief Randal Taylor in the recently discovered and partially investigated case of Sgt. Eric Huxley and his alleged abuse of a prone, homeless civilian by stomping on the head of Jermaine Vaughn on September 24th of this year.
We are deeply saddened by the images released by the body-worn camera footage and our expression of sympathy for Mr. Vaughn is beyond words.
The deliberate and unprincipled actions of Sgt. Huxley, and the apparent silent accommodation of his actions of depriving Mr. Vaughn of his civil and constitutional rights by IMPD Sgt. Christopher Kibbey and Officer Matthew Shores, are extremely disturbing to the Indianapolis community.
The Indianapolis Urban League remains committed to advocating for improved transparency and accountability for police actions in our community. It is imperative the IMPD Police Merit Board addresses ongoing community concerns regarding the use of force, departmental discipline, and overall departmental policies that have contributed to a rising level of disconnect and mistrust between the officers and employees of the department and the Indianapolis community; particularly its citizens of color.
In this case, the implementation of body-worn cameras demonstrates the beginning of necessary changes in capturing incidents as they actually occur. Most important it is our sincere hope that officers view people of color as human beings.
President & CEO
Indianapolis Urban League