MUNCIE — The Muncie Police Merit Commission fired a Muncie Police officer who admitted to allegations of excessive force.
Chase Winkle had been suspended without pay since February 11, 2020 pending the outcome of the criminal cases filed against him.
Chase Winkle, the son of former police chief Joe Winkle, will plead guilty to 11 criminal counts including excessive force and writing false reports, according to a plea agreement signed on November 15.
The Muncie Police Department issued a news release to WRTV condemning Winkle’s actions.
“The Muncie Police Department does not condone the kind of tactics that were outlined in the plea agreement,” said Chief Nathan Sloan in a statement to WRTV. “These actions do not reflect what the Muncie Police Department stands for or should have stood for at the time of occurrence.”
Following Winkle entering into the plea agreement in which he acknowledged committing multiple felonies, the Muncie Police Department and the Muncie Police Merit Commission met on November 17 in an executive session to discuss the situation.
“Following the executive session, the Muncie Police Administration requested in its regularly scheduled public merit meeting that the Merit Commission consider immediately removing Chase Winkle from the department,” read the statement. “The Merit Commission then unanimously voted to remove Chase Winkle from the Muncie Police Department.”
WRTV Investigates received a response from Winkle’s attorneys.
"Mr. Winkle’s separation from the Muncie Police Department was expected upon filing his Petition to Enter a Plea of Guilty," Winkle's attorneys said in a statement to WRTV. "Mr. Winkle’s focus is on concluding the criminal case, serving his sentence, and getting back to his family."
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.
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.
Winkle could face 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.
Where do the other Muncie officer trials stand?
Current Muncie police officer Corey Posey, who was 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.
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.
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.