Indianapolis News and HeadlinesIndianapolis Local News


ISP investigating arrest at Purdue University at Tippecanoe County Prosecutor's direction

Posted at 7:51 PM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 22:43:09-05

WEST LAFAYETTE — At the direction of Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington, the Indiana State Police will conduct an independent investigation into a man's arrest at Purdue University last week captured in a now-viral video.

According to a Friday statement from the university, ISP has already begun its investigation and will review all evidence, including video evidence, witness statements and police reports.

"Purdue welcomes the prosecutor’s action and believes it to be a positive step, having previously requested an independent review by the ISP," the statement reads. "To ensure the integrity of the investigation, the university will have no further comment or communication on the matter until its conclusion."

All evidence and results of the investigation will be turned over to the prosecutor's office once ISP concludes its investigation, according to the statement.

MORE | Court dismisses life without parole sentencing enhancement in Southport Lt. Aaron Allan murder trial

The announcement comes a day after Purdue University Police Chief John Cox said late Thursday the university police officer, who has not been named, was placed on an indefinite leave of absence.

Cox's statement did not indicate whether the officer's leave will be paid or unpaid. WRTV asked Purdue by email and phone late Thursday night for clarification and is awaiting a response.

"An internal investigation is taking place into the Feb. 4 incident, and upon completion, the Indiana State Police will immediately commence its own independent review," Cox's Thursday statement reads.

The ACLU of Indiana weighed in on the officer's leave Friday, Tweeting "Despite their intended role as peacekeepers, university officers are often responsible for violence against students and local residents alike."

The organization called for a thorough and transparent investigation, adding "All students should feel safe, comfortable, and able to thrive on their college campus – yet people of color, especially Black folks, are too often targeted by police and left to feel threatened by the people meant (to) keep them safe."

Friday's arrest occurred while an officer responded to an "urgent call" from a third party who followed the campus' "see something, say something" guidance, Cox previously said. Cox said the caller said it appeared the woman was being held against her will near Horticulture Drive.

MORE | The Delphi Killings: Everything we know five years after Abby & Libby were killed

The video, which WRTV is still attempting to get permission to share, shows a Black man's encounter with a white police officer. The video was posted on Instagram and has thousands of views.

It starts with the officer telling the person recording the video to get back. The man, whose identity hasn't been confirmed, is on his back near what appears to be a pile of snow.

The officer appears to be using his arm near the man's head and neck. The man, at one point, says "you're choking me" several times before the man moves his head and the officer moves his arm. At one point, the officer appears to use his radio and said he "needs more people here now please."

The video ends when it appears more officers approach the scene.

MORE | Suspect allegedly tied to 'anthony_shots' profile wants his trial delayed

Video from the officers' body cameras hasn't been released at this time. Cox said the video and all findings and evidence will be released once an internal investigation by the university police department is complete.

Cox said no injuries were reported.

It is still unclear if any charges have been filed in connection with the incident.

On Thursday, Purdue students packed a lecture hall to voice their concerns regarding campus police's handling of the situation in a town hall meeting hosted by the university's Black Student Union.

They also shared suggestions on how the campus community can move forward.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"There are no subjects Purdue takes more seriously than campus safety, student well-being, and proper police conduct. On Friday evening, Feb. 4, police received a bystander report of a suspected assault on a woman, prompting an officer’s urgent response.

Immediately upon learning of the use of force during our police officer’s response, we ordered an investigation, including not only the required review of the officer’s actions as is standard procedure under Purdue University Police policies, but also witness interviews and a release of all video evidence, including body-worn and in-car camera footage.

The inquiry into the police officer’s handling of the situation will be swift and thorough. As an additional step, following the internal review, the Indiana State Police will immediately commence an independent review of the PUPD investigation and video evidence. Should there be a finding of misconduct by the officer, appropriate action will be taken promptly.

In the spirit of transparency, once the Purdue Police and Indiana State Police reviews are complete, all findings and evidence, including all video evidence from body-worn cameras, in-car camera footage, dispatch calls and witness interviews, will be made available."

WRTV is continuing to follow this story. It will be updated as more information becomes available.

WRTV Real-time Editor Andrew Smith and Reporter Cornelius Hocker contributed to this report.