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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Sources: 18 IMPD Event Response Group officers turn in gear to protest indictments

Sources told 13News Chief Randal Taylor has no intention of recommending termination of the 18 officers to the merit board.

INDIANAPOLIS — Sources tell 13News that 18 Event Response Group officers with IMPD serving extra duty for crowd control turned in their ERG gear Friday to protest the charges of indicted fellow ERG officers Nathaniel Schauwecker and Jonathan Horlock.

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears investigated the May 31, 2020 curfew arrests of Black Lives Matter protesters Ivore Westfield and Rachel Harding. Westfield suffered major bruising and open sores during the arrest by ERG. Their Attorney Terence Kinnard has filed a civil lawsuit on their behalf.

IMPD Chief Randal Taylor got wind of the ERG walkout and asked that officers remain because they do a great job and are much-needed. However, Taylor empathized with the officers, understanding how upset they are seeing their fellow officers indicted for doing their job. 

Sources told 13News Taylor has no intention of recommending termination to the merit board, but IMPD has not confirmed that at this point in the case. The chief told 13News earlier Friday that he considers ERG a vital part of his operations and told 13 News that he understands their frustration.

"We need them," he said. "They do a great service for the community."

Both Schauwecker and Horlock are being represented by attorney John Kautzman to help them fight felony battery and official misconduct charges. They are scheduled for their initial hearings later this month. 

According to records at the Marion County Clerk of Courts, both officers were able to have a bondsman post bail remotely in the amount of $7,500 each.

RELATED: IMPD event response officers threaten walkout

There are well over 100 officers who serve on the Event Response Group. 

The team is usually the first call out when IMPD needs officers at a scene who are trained to handle crowd control. ERG officers have some of the same protective gear as SWAT and other special units who respond during emergencies. In some cases, officers can earn overtime if called in when they are off-duty. The ERG is also used at large events that are pre-planned with large crowds expected at an event.

The general orders for IMPD spell out the operating procedures and the level of force used, if needed, by officers who are part of the Event Response Group. Many new officers have joined the ERG and are often mentored by seasoned officers who have large crowd control experience.

"Their concern is that they are following rules but they are still getting charged. My hope is that they will reconsider turning in their gear," Taylor said.

Ironically, around the same time period of the threat for a massive ERG gear surrender on Friday, IMPD homicide detectives requested ERG service at the scene of a deadly shooting. It was also shift change for the district where the shooting happened. 

"They did ask for any on-duty ERG to come out to just help secure the scene," said IMPD Ofc. Michael Hewitt.

Officers first on the scene needed help with crowd control and ERG's expertise and training.

"Looking at the run before I came up here, it did look like there were a few numbers that I recognize, unit numbers, I should say, that are associated with the ERG," Hewitt said.

Since serving on the ERG is voluntary, no officer would be in trouble for quitting, but it could have an impact on the safety in Indianapolis.