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No one is above the law

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There’s a level of responsibility that comes with all forms of authority.

During the evening of July 21, 2007, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officer Adam Chappell violated his authority when he forcibly hit and kicked Brian Jetter, a 17-year-old Rockford, Ill., youth who attended Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration.

According to IMPD reports, Jetter was detained and later arrested on charges of battery, resisting arrest, and public intoxication.

An IMPD video shows Jetter being placed facedown on the ground and Chappell punch the teen, walk away, and then return to kick him in the head. When Chappell returned to kick Jetter in the head, the youth, who was calm, openly wailed in despair.

After an internal review, Chappell was charged with misdemeanor battery late Monday evening and then released on a $7,500 bond. IMPD officials confirm that Chappell will be on administrative duty until the internal investigation is completed.

During a time of increased instances of police brutality throughout the U.S., few in the African-American community were surprised that Chappell committed such an act. However, what has surprised many is Fraternal Order of Police president Aaron Sullivan’s response.

“Have you ever worked at Expo,” he rhetorically asked during a local news broadcast.

Sullivan also feels that Chappell was not wrong in his approach.

“That was a technique that he would be authorized to use if he deemed that the technique was appropriate for the time. We stand behind him 100 percent.”

Sullivan and the FOP’s support of Chappell is in stark contrast to the view of Mayor Bart Peterson and Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, who was quoted as saying “no one is above the law.”

From what I’ve seen of the video, Chappell appears, in my opinion, to be in the wrong. His use of excessive force while Jetter was already subdued was extreme beyond reason. However, it’s important for us not to lose sight of the entire situation, which also includes the initial reason Jetter was apprehended.

Jetter was arrested for battery, resisting arrest and public intoxication. Although Brizzi later decided not to pursue the case; right is right and wrong is wrong; and any minor who was publicly intoxicated among other things; is most certainly wrong.

While some may consider Brizzi’s decision to drop the case against Jetter admirable, I think it’s something that he should have followed through with regardless of how unjustly the young man was treated. Make no mistake about it, Chappell’s actions were wrong, but so were Jetter’s. There’s a level of responsibility that we all must assume for our actions. Chappell’s possible jail time, demotion, and fees as well as Jetter’s legal battles would be efforts that hold them both accountable.

On the brighter side, I’m pleased that Brizzi as well as Mayor Peterson are taking this issue and Chappell’s inappropriate behavior seriously. The two men are really setting a standard. Brizzi and Peterson are telling the local community that the city does not tolerate police brutality. That mindset is something that should have been instituted years ago, but more recently in 2002 when over 1,100 tickets, 376 parking citations, and 255 vehicles were towed during Summer Celebration.

The Indianapolis community is tired of maltreatment and we aren’t going to stand for it much longer.

It’s all about accountability. Brizzi is right – no one is above the law. That goes for the entire police department, the community at large, and of course Chappell and Jetter.

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