INDIANAPOLIS — EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video is graphic in nature and includes strong language.
Two different angles of the same moment, captured by IMPD body cameras during an arrest last month on Monument Circle have led to one officer facing felony charges.
According to court documents, Sgt. Eric Huxley, who has spent 14 years with IMPD and is assigned to the downtown district, has been charged with official misconduct of a public servant and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury. Both charges are felonies.
IMPD said Huxley was assisting another officer making an arrest on Monument Circle when the incident happened on Friday, Sept. 24. Upon learning of the incident on Wed. Oct. 6, Chief Randal Taylor launched a special investigation into Huxley's use of force.
During the news conference, IMPD Lt. Shane Foley said the charges stem from the internal investigation. Huxley has since been suspended without pay, and Taylor has recommended Huxley's termination to the Civilian Police Merit Board.
"I promised this community and I promised our officers that I would be transparent and that's in good times and bad times," Taylor said in a news conference Tuesday morning. "And this is a bad time, but I think the community deserves it."
IMPD also advised the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office about the incident.
There were two other officers involved in the incident, Sgt. Christopher Kibbey and Officer Matthew Shores. Their body cameras showed the disturbing footage.
They responded to Monument Circle after a call of disorderly conduct. According to the probable cause affidavit, Kibbey heard Jermaine Vaughn being "loud and disorderly," and asked him to quiet down. When he didn't, Shores arrested him.
While Vaughn was in handcuffs, body cam video shows Shores forced him to the ground. While he was on his back with his hands in cuffs, Huxley kicked him in the face, immediately causing his mouth to bleed.
"Today's body-worn camera recording depicting the actions of an IMPD Sergeant will likely shock and anger you, like it did to me," Taylor said. "To the citizen involved in this incident, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. That interaction does not represent IMPD and the work our officers do each day to keep our community safe."
WARNING: The video below contains graphic language and images. It may not be appropriate for all audiences.
According court records, a separate officer's body camera footage reveals Huxley claimed he accidentally kicked Vaughn in the face, when he meant to place his foot on Vaughn's shoulder.
Taylor said Vaughn was then taken to jail, but did not receive medical treatment following the incident.
Lionel Rush, the pastor of the Interdenominational ministerial Alliance was disgusted by the video.
"Atrocious, nefarious, dastardly, mean spirited and ugly," Rush said.
Flanked by other local pastors and minister, Rush said they’re pleased with the swiftness of IMPD's response.
"To the credit of the chief they are forthcoming, and they didn't need to be put in a headlock to do that," said Rush, who noted the three officers are white and Vaughn is Black. Vaugh is also homeless. Rush also looked at the video in the context of faith.
"Somehow the dynamics work differently when there's a white person in a blue uniform with a badge and there is a Black victim. I don't know if the officer is a Christian," said Rush, before quoting scripture: "As often as you do it to the least of these, you do it to me."
"This officer did not kick this homeless man, he kicked Jesus in the face," Rush finished.
Taylor said there were no racial epithets or other overt displays of racism during the incident, to his knowledge.
Kibbey and Shores were placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. The IMPD Internal Affairs investigation is ongoing, but Kibbey and Shores are not facing criminal charges, and Taylor said he didn't expect that would happen.
"Accountability and transparency will continue to be a top priority for the department. My hope is that my actions today will show that we will hold people responsible for their actions, and that goes for my officers as well," Taylor said.
Mayor Joe Hogsett released a statement following IMPD's news conference, calling Huxley's actions "unacceptable."
"The footage released today by IMPD is deeply troubling, depicting acts that are unacceptable from law enforcement in our city. I commend Chief Taylor's prompt response, as well as the department's continued commitment to transparency as they seek appropriate accountability for the officer involved. This incident underscores the importance of continuing to build community trust, and reinforces our resolve to maintain investments in the reforms, training, and technology that ensure accountability to the high standards of conduct expected by Indianapolis residents."
The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police welcomed the investigation.
"We too are troubled by the images within this video. We welcome a full and forthright review of the related facts involved. While the camera's perspective is only one of many…it is an important perspective nonetheless. Gathering such factors is one of several reasons our organization was the first to call for such a body worn camera system to be implemented within the IMPD. Now that we know such a review is underway, we will continue to monitor this matter and await its final determinations."
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