An Indianapolis police officer faces two felony charges for stomping on a homeless Black man’s head during an arrest Sept. 24 at Monument Circle while the man was in handcuffs and on the ground.
Sgt. Eric Huxley was charged with official misconduct and battery with moderate bodily injury. Both are Level 6 felonies. Huxley, who is white, is suspended without pay, and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Randal Taylor recommended his termination to the Civilian Police Merit Board.
The United States Attorney’s Office and FBI are also investigating and will “take appropriate action” if necessary, Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress said in a statement Oct. 13.
IMPD showed body camera footage from two other officers who were involved. The videos shows one officer take the man, Jermaine Vaughn, to the ground in handcuffs. Huxley walked up to Vaughn, who was leaned forward on his back, and stomped once on his head.
“It hurts to me to see any of our officers treat someone the way that you’re gonna see here shortly,” Taylor said before showing the videos at a press conference Oct. 12. “No excuse for it.”
Huxley is a 14-year veteran with IMPD, police said.
Police arrested Vaughn for disorderly conduct. According to a probable cause affidavit, Vaughn, who said he had been homeless for about a year, was “talking/yelling to no one in particular when an IMPD officer approached him.”
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said he was disappointed when he saw the body camera footage and that the incident raises questions about the role the criminal justice system plays in homelessness.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to arrest people because they are poor,” he said.
The other two officers, Sgt. Christopher Kibbey and officer Matthew Shores, do not face criminal charges but are still part of an internal investigation. They were assigned to administrative duties.
According to the affidavit, Huxley said, “I accidently kicked him in his face. I was attempting to put my foot on his shoulder and I accidently kicked him in his face.”
Vaughn’s booking photograph showed “blood and/or a laceration to his lower lip,” according to the affidavit.
Taylor called the incident a one-off and said not every officer behaves that way.
“My hope is that the community understands when these things come to our attention, we’ll deal with it quickly, get those people off the force,” he said, “but please don’t hold that against our men and women that are doing a great job for you day in and day out.”
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.