MUNCIE — A fifth Muncie Police Department officer has been criminally charged in connection with excessive force within the department, WRTV Investigates has learned.
On April 8, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed one federal charge of Misprision of a Felony against Officer Dalton Kurtz for writing false reports on a June 5, 2018 incident involving a juvenile suspect “N.B.”
The same day, on April 8 of this year, Kurtz pleaded guilty to the charge in a signed plea agreement.
On August 4, a federal judge accepted that plea agreement in which Kurtz admitted to concealing and failing to report a fellow officer’s inappropriate use of force.
Kurtz, 32, faces up to three years in prison and he will be sentenced at a later date.
The charge stems from a June 5, 2018 call involving three juveniles who had fled after crashing a vehicle into a building.
Officer Kurtz and another officer, Chase Winkle, chased N.B. on foot.
Court documents allege they found N.B. face down in a yard with his arms extended in front of him in a submissive posture.
Although N.B. remained compliant, Officer Chase Winkle ran toward N.B. and kicked N.B. in the head without legal justification, court documents allege.
Officer Winkle then struck N.B. in the head and face, causing injuries to N.B., court documents allege.
Officer Dalton Kurtz did not report the excessive force to the proper authorities and instead concealed Winkle’s excessive force, read court documents.
Kurtz wrote in his report that N.B. refused commands to show officers his hands, and also omitted that Winkle kicked N.B. in the head, court documents said.
As part of the plea agreement reached with prosecutors on April 8, Kurtz waived his right to an indictment by a grand jury and waived his right to appeal.
The US Attorney’s Office declined to answer questions from WRTV about the Kurtz case.
Kurtz's attorney, Adam M. Henry, said he had no comment on the case. WRTV is working to get a statement from the Muncie Police Department.
Kurtz resigned on May 17, 2021.
Chase Winkle's attorney, John Kautzman, declined to comment Thursday.
Officer Dalton Kurtz has not yet been sentenced by the court.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of up to three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release following imprisonment.
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The case against Kurtz is the fifth criminal case against a Muncie Police Department officer.
The other four cases are still pending in federal court.
Officer Chase Winkle is already charged with five counts of deprivation of rights associated with excessive force and six counts of writing false reports. He allegedly wrote false reports about his use of force against five people he arrested, along with two others arrested by Muncie Police officers.
On April 14, the US Attorney’s Office announced three officers and a sergeant with the Muncie Police Department will face additional charges of excessive force and obstruction after a grand jury returned a 17-count superseding indictment.
Officers Joseph Chase Winkle, Jeremy Gibson and Corey Posey, along with Sgt. Joseph Kresja, were indicted. The superseding indictment charges Winkle with 11 felonies, Gibson with three felonies, Kresja with two felonies and Posey with one felony.
"According to the superseding indictment, Winkle's actions included kicking, punching, knee striking, and using a taser on arrestees without justification, and resulted in bodily injury to the arrestees," the release said.
Gibson faces two counts of deprivation of rights associated with excessive force and one count of writing a false report against a person he arrested.
"The superseding indictment said Gibson punched, stomped and struck the knees of people he arrested without justification and caused injuries to both," the release said.
Krejsa was charged with two counts of writing false reports about two of Winkle's alleged excessive force incidents, according to court documents.
"According to the superseding indictment, on one occasion, Krejsa minimized the level of force used by Winkle during one arrest, and, on another occasion, falsely represented that a different Muncie Police Department sergeant cleared Winkle of his use of force when it was actually Krejsa who conducted that review," the release said.
Posey faces one count of writing a false report about one of Winkle's alleged excessive force incidents.
"According to the superseding indictment, Posey’s use of force report misrepresented the arrestee’s behavior, and mischaracterized and omitted Winkle’s unlawful use of force during the incident," the release said.
Winkle, Gibson and Krejsa were previously charged in a 12-count indictment with civil rights and obstruction offenses related to five of the six incidents charged in the superseding indictment, which adds excessive force and false report charges against Winkle and Gibson related to a sixth incident.
Posey was not charged in the initial indictment.
Two new cases were included in the superseding indictment that were not previously listed in the initial indictment.
In the first, Posey is charged with allegedly falsifying a report in which he did not write that Winkle struck a person's head and neck area, causing him serious injuries.
The indictment alleges that after the person, identified in court documents as L.G., said something to Posey, Winkle "intentionally used his knee to strike L.G.'s head and neck area and did not 'attempt to place [his] knee on [L.G.'s] upper back to control his movement.'"
It also alleges the force used by Winkle was not needed to arrest L.G. and ensure officer safety and Winkle's use of force rose to the level of deadly force.
In a second case, Winkle and Gibson are alleged to have "used hand strikes and knee strikes" against another person's head. It also alleges Winkle falsified a resistance form about the arrest of the person identified as E.M. by not mentioning he used hand and knee strikes.
Gibson also allegedly falsified the resistance form by writing he took E.M. to the ground because E.M. was not complying and noting he only used a "low level of force." Gibson did not mention he used his knee to strike E.M.'s face and head.
The maximum penalty for deprivation of rights offenses is 10 years in prison and 20 years for false report charges.
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