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Two ex-Muncie police officers sentenced in excessive force case

Winkle and Gibson.jpg
Posted at 10:29 AM, Aug 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-31 08:56:15-04

MUNCIE — Two former Muncie police officers were sentenced on Wednesday for using excessive force and writing false reports.

Chase Winkle, son of former police chief Joe Winkle, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and two years of supervised released. He was immediately handcuffed and remanded to custody of the U.S. Marshals.

Winkle, 36, blamed his actions on anger, insecurity, stress and off-duty alcohol abuse as he addressed the judge during his sentencing hearing.

"I know that I was wrong," Winkle told the judge. "I wish I had been written up, heavily disciplined or even fired."

Before handing down her sentence, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt addressed Winkle saying he "terrorized the Muncie community".

"You can't blame your dad or the Muncie Police Department," she told Winkle. "This was not a one time lapse in judgment."

Winkle admitted to assaulting five suspects and writing false reports to cover it up.

Winkle's father, former police chief Joe Winkle, attended and held his head in his hands for much of the sentencing.

Earlier Wednesday morning, former Muncie police officer Jeremy Gibson was sentenced to 14 months in prison followed by two years on supervised release.

Gibson was accused of using excessive force on suspect Manny Montero in 2018 and writing a false report to cover it up.

In May 2022, Gibson pleaded guilty to two felony charges connected with excessive force and covering it up—depriving arrestees of their rights and obstruction of justice for falsifying a report about use of force.

"I deeply regret my actions," Gibson said at his sentencing. "There is nothing I can do to repair the damage I have caused."

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt said Gibson will be allowed to report to federal prison on January 2, 2024 so he can attend the birth of his fourth child.

"I have no excuse for my actions," Gibson said at his sentencing. "My actions have disgraced me and my family."

Manny Montero nearly lost his eye as a result of the assault and was severely injured, prosecutors said.

As part of his sentence, Gibson must pay Montero restitution, but the amount has not yet been determined.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt called Gibson's actions appalling saying, "Our society can't tolerate police brutality," before handing down his sentence.

Gibson had faced up to 30 years in prison, but the court took into account that he pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility. He filed paperwork last week asking the federal judge to sentence him to home confinement, probation and community service instead of prison.

Gibson’s attorney filed a 70-page sentencing memorandum ahead of Gibson’s August 30 sentencing.

In May 2022, Gibson pleaded guilty to two felony charges connected with excessive force and covering it up—depriving arrestees of their rights and obstruction of justice for falsifying a report about use of force.

According to the sentencing memorandum, Gibson’s attorney says the former officer “fell prey to a corrupt police department characterized by nepotism, a lack of training, and supervisors who turned a blind eye to unethical practices.”

Chase Winkle, son of former police chief Joe Winkle, will be sentenced August 30 at 2:30 pm after he was convicted in December 2022 for using excessive force on suspects and writing false reports.

Gibson’s filing says he has “accepted responsibility and cooperated fully, completely and voluntarily. He was the first indicted defendant in this multi-defendant case to plead guilty and was the impetus behind the Government securing two more guilty pleas.”

The sentencing memorandum also includes letters from friends and family to Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in support of Gibson and his character.

Gibson had nothing to say in May 2022 when WRTV Investigates asked him if he had anything to say to the community or whether he planned to apologize.

“He is a first-time offender who has led an exemplary life and will be punished severely by his status as a convicted felon (including being stripped of a career he dreamed of and worked for his entire life),” read the sentencing memorandum.

Two other former Muncie officers have been sentenced to prison time.

Sgt. Joseph Krejsa is currently serving a 19-month sentence at FCI Gilmer, a medium security federal prison in West Virginia with an adjacent minimum security camp.

Krejsa pleaded guilty to falsifying a police report.

Ex-Muncie officer Dalton Kurtz is serving a 6-month prison sentence.

Prison records do not yet list a location for Kurtz.

As part of his 2022 plea agreement, Gibson agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors and testify against other police officers in the case who are accused of excessive force or attempting to cover it up: Chase Winkle, Corey Posey and Sgt. Joseph Krejsa.

Posey’s second trial is scheduled for September 11 after the first resulted in a mistrial.

According to the superseding indictment, Gibson’s actions included punching, stomping on, and knee-striking suspects without justification, which caused injuries to them.

In court last year, Gibson admitted to striking Emanuel “Manny” Montero with his fist and knee, to Montero’s head and face.

Gibson also admitted in court to writing a false report and stating that Montero did not comply with commands prior to being taken to the ground.

Gibson also admitted he omitted from the report that he used a knee strike to Montero’s head.

Montero, identified in court documents as E.M., says Jeremy Gibson and other officers assaulted him on May 13, 2018. Montero was pulled over for a missing headlight.

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Montero spoke with WRTV Investigates in 2021.

"They told me to step out, and I stepped out,” Montero said. “They just started pummeling me. Pretty much beating me down."

He said he kept thinking about wanting to see his family and his son during this incident.

“I didn't understand why they were doing it,” Montero said. “I didn't understand what was going on."

Montero said he received a $250,000 settlement check after filing a lawsuit against the city, but he says it isn’t enough. He wants Gibson and the other indicted officers to be convicted.

"I was scared. I thought I was going to die,” Montero said. “I thought they were going to kill me. I'd never been so scared in my life."

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Gibson resigned from Muncie Police on March 10, 2022.

He had previously been on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the federal criminal cases and charges of conduct violations before the Muncie Police Merit Commission.