MUNCIE — A Muncie police officer signed a plea agreement this week agreeing to plead guilty to federal charges stemming from allegations of excessive force.
Chase Winkle, the son of former police chief Joe Winkle, will plead guilty to 11 counts, according to the agreement.
Chase Winkle was scheduled to go to trial in federal court on January 9, 2023.
Court records show the plea agreement was signed by Chase Winkle on Monday, and federal prosecutors signed off on it on Tuesday November 15.
Winkle is 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.
"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," a news release from the US Attorney’s Office read.
Winkle has been on unpaid leave with the police department since he was arrested on federal charges in 2020.
The maximum penalty for the deprivation-of-rights offenses is 10 years prison and the maximum penalty for false report offenses is 20 years of imprisonment, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Theoretically, Winkle faces up to 140 years in prison.
The plea agreement does not detail Winkle’s sentence, but federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence at the low end of the advisory sentencing guidelines range.
No hearing date has been set.
Current Muncie police officer Corey Posey, federally charged with false reporting will get his own trial, a judge ruled.
Corey Posey is charged with one count of False Report, a felony, and faces up to 20 years in prison.
A new trial date has not yet been set for Posey.
Sgt. Joseph Krejsa, a former Muncie Police Officer, has requested his own trial but the judge has not yet ruled on Krejsa’s motion.
The allegations against Corey Posey stem from a 2018 incident in which Posey is accused of writing a report that implied suspect Lonnie Gannom failed to comply with commands.
Posey omitted from the report his colleague, Officer Chase Winkle, struck Gannom’s head and neck with his knee and also omitted that Winkle caused Gannom’s injuries, the indictment read.
As he awaits federal trial for false reporting, he is still collecting a paycheck from the police department, WRTV Investigates has learned.
Patrolman Corey Posey has been with the department since 2018 and his salary is $56,386 or $27.11 per hour, records show.
WRTV Investigates has requested body camera footage of this 2018 incident several times, but the police department has yet to provide it.
In September 2020, the request was denied "due to pending investigations." In September 2021, WRTV Investigates filed another records request for the body camera footage, which is still pending.
Posey and four other current and former Muncie Police Department officers were charged for their roles in allegedly using excessive force against suspects and attempting to cover up the misconduct.
Sgt. Joseph Krejsa retired from the department and Officer Chase Winkle remains on unpaid administrative leave.
Former Muncie Police Department Officer Jeremy Gibson already pleaded guilty in May 2022 to two felony charges connected with excessive force and covering it up.
Gibson will be sentenced on February 8.
Officer Dalton Kurtz resigned from the department and pleaded guilty to writing false reports.
The decision to pay Posey while he’s on administrative leave is not sitting well among some in the community, especially since the city’s excessive force settlements now surpass $1.2 million.
Marwin Strong, who grew up in Muncie and founded the anti-crime group Enough is Enough, was surprised to learn an indicted officer was still getting paid.
“That's unethical,” Strong said. “That is something that shouldn't happen. If you do something related to excessive force on a federal indictment, I think you really need to be fired."
Strong said the decision to pay Posey is questionable as the city looks to rebuild trust among police and community members.
"Innocent until proven guilty but I don't think they need to be paying him anything at this moment,” Strong said. “When you're an officer you're a man of integrity, of trust, and then he's indicted. I don't think he needs to be paid anything."
WRTV Investigates found the city knew about the allegations involving Posey eight months before he was indicted.
Gannom filed an excessive force lawsuit in August 2020 alleging officers beat him in the face, and as a result, he suffered various facial fractures and required hospitalization.
The lawsuit states Posey claimed Lonnie Gannom grabbed Posey’s hands which resulted in a physical scuffle.
Winkle, Gibson and Krejsa were also named in the civil suit.
“At the conclusion of the alleged scuffle, Lonnie was severely and excessively beaten about the face, sustained numerous facial fractures, and required hospitalization,” the lawsuit read.
Gannom is represented by Indianapolis attorney Rob King.
“The healing process is ongoing,” King said. “No person should be subject to illegal excessive force, regardless of that person's status or stature within the criminal justice system."
The city settled Gannom’s civil lawsuit against the city for $450,000.
The city has refused to explain why it’s also paying Posey’s salary while he awaits federal trial and remains on administrative leave.
"After speaking with Chief Sloan, the department is not going to make any comment at this time,” Muncie assistant city attorney Benjamin Freeman said in an email to WRTV in July.