Greenwood officer resigns after New Year's Day arrest

(Johnson Co. jail photo)

Greenwood Police Officer Joseph Rodriguez, 41, has formally resigned from his position after a New Year's Day arrest.

Rodriguez had been suspended without pay following his arrest early New Year's Day morning. 

Rodriguez was off duty when he was arrested by the Johnson County Sheriff's Department following a disturbance at a party with family and friends.  

A family friend told officers he pulled Rodriguez off his own wife when he found him choking her. That reportedly led to more fighting, and Rodriguez is alleged to have ripped the shirt off of one of his friends who was trying to calm him down to take him outside. 

Two Bargersville police officers who were trying to offer aid to Rodriguez were also injured when he reportedly became combative. 

Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers has known Rodriguez for years and considers the behavior out of character. He considers Rodriguez a good officer, an officer who has overseen training for GPD.  

Myers says although Greenwood has a zero tolerance policy for city employees when it comes to on-the-job alcohol use, he wants to make sure Rodriguez gets any help that may be needed following the unusual incident.  

"I believe his behavior was absolutely alcohol-induced and led to the out-of-control actions," said Myers.  

Police Chief John Laut has contacted the Merit Commission to request an executive session to discuss further disciplinary action against Rodriguez. The chief can only suspend an employee for up to five days. Laut visited Rodriguez at the Johnson County detention center to thoroughly explain the suspension after he presumably had a chance to sober up.

Some family and friends apparently wanted to recant their statements to police about Rodriguez' behavior after he was transported away from the party. Officers learned that the witnesses feared retaliation from the officer, saying they didn't want him to hurt them nor their families after possibly reading their written statements.

Police reports indicate that one witness even encouraged other people at the New Year's gathering to try to withdraw their statements. The police report for the incident makes mention of friends fearing Rodriguez after another incident where he fired a weapon in the past. An officer at Wednesday's incident asked those present to raise their hands if they feared the suspended officer, and almost everyone did so.

Rodriguez was arrested on three battery charges, public intoxication and strangulation.

Investigators and prosecutors sought a $150,000 cash bond due to the fears and concerns of those at holiday gathering.