Officer accused of beating teen goes before merit board

Brandon Johnson shows his injuries after he says he was beaten up by an officer
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Indianapolis - An officer's job is on the line as he appears before the merit board Wednesday for allegedly beating up a teenager.

Officer Jerry Piland pleaded not guilty to using excessive force in the beating of 15-year-old Brandon Johnson during an arrest earlier this year.

The teenager suffered broken teeth and severe bruising on his face. It happened as the teen interfered when officers were arresting his younger brother during a burglary investigation.

Prosecutors cleared Johnson of any wrongdoing in his contact with police officers.

During Wednesday's hearing, Brandon Johnson re-enacted before the Merit Board his version of what happened six months ago when officers hit him during an arrest. He described the injuries he sustained on May 16th.

"My eye's swollen shut, my nose is broken," he said.

The now 16-year-old said he asked a group of Metro Police officers why they were arresting his younger brother. But police say the 6', 200-lb.teen indeed resisted and that it took three police officers to hold him down. Officer Jerry Piland is accused of kicking Johnson.

"He kicked Brandon first and then he started kneeing him in the face. He was dropping his knee on my brother's face," said Sharikra Johnson, Brandon's sister, who said that her brother was in handcuffs while he was being attacked.

The arrest sparked intense public outrage, with protesters insisting Officer Piland and others were out of control, beating an innocent boy who put up no resistance, a theme repeated during the hearing by city attorneys.

Officer Piland sat quietly as Johnson maintained he had no idea why police used force against him. Johnson maintains he never resisted.

"After the officer got you down to the ground and attempted to cuff you again, you never tried to grab his legs and do a reversal to get on top of him?" Johnson was asked.

"No, sir," he responded.

"Never did it?"

"No."

"Got your hand, and you jerked it away again during the struggle. Do you recall that?"

"No, sir."

"Didn't happen, huh? They just made it all up?"

"Uh huh."

Johnson was reminded several times that he was under oath during the hearing. He said he understood that.

Officer Piland has not been charged criminally, but Police Chief Paul Ciesielski still wants the merit board to fire Piland.

Officer Piland's attorneys will have the opportunity to call witnesses Thursday, mostly police officers.

The Merit Board could make a decision as early as Thursday. Piland maintains his innocence.