Officer, Elkhart, Corporal Newland discussed on Morning Edition


New England warns him. Don't spit with desma spits toward Newland and both corporal Newland and another officer Joshua Titus, grab LA desma push him backwards onto the floor while he's still seated. His head strikes the floor and both officers jump on top of him and punch him in the face repeatedly. When did this happen? This happened on January twelve of this year. And how did this incident come to your attention, and how did the video come to your attention? The south bend Tribune was investigating disciplinary matters in the police department in partnership with propublica. There are not many disciplinary cases that have been brought forward to the city's civilian oversight board. But this was one of them. We noticed it from looking at minutes of the meetings of the civilian oversight board that in June the police chief Ed wind Bigler had brought forward written reprimands for two officers for a violation of the department's policy for use of necessary force. Also, this is a case where the police department did see. And abuse and did discipline the officers. But then the question arises whether reprimands were enough for actually beating a suspect in handcuffs at the time. That's correct. There are also questions about how accurately the police chief described what had happened when he went before the civilian oversight board. What do you mean? Didn't he say that the police punched a suspect? No, he didn't the police chief described what had happened as these two officers having gone a little overboard. So you have this incident where there was a euphemism that essentially became an alleged cover-up of a beating and let's bring in Ken Armstrong of propublica. How does this fit in with the broader record of the Elkhart Indiana police department when you began looking into that what we discovered is that under the current police chief disciplinary actions have plummeted in the ten years before current police chief took office the prior police chiefs brought an average of twenty disciplinary actions a year to the civilian oversight board in the first year under the current police chief the number of disciplinary actions brought to the board was. Zero. Is it remotely possible that the number of disciplinary cases went down drastically? Because the police department behave better, I think that video would argue otherwise this video shows a man who ultimately had to be carried away on a stretcher. Are there many cases that you found where someone was seriously hurt? This is certainly the only case that we've seen under the current chief where officers were disciplined over an allegation of excessive force. We don't know if there are more the mayor of Elkhart actually reached out to the Indiana state police task them to investigate his police department, the state police declined and said that that would be more appropriate for the US department of Justice. And Steve as we started looking at the department's history, we discovered that there were a disproportionate number of fatal shootings by police officers in Elkhart there were six people shot and killed by police officers in a five year period. If you compare that to New York City, the numbers are pretty extraordinary in those same five years New York City had seven times the shootings with one hundred sixty times the people so if I'm living in Elkhart, Indiana, statistically, speaking, I'm way, more likely to be shot by. A police officer than in New York. The numbers would say so yes. So the person who is willing to look into this at the moment is the mayor of Elkhart in this video that you published one of the four officers who's in the room is identified as the mayor's son. He's not one of the people who throws a punch, but he's there. How would you say the mayor has done under the pressure of your reporting in the story? Well, the mayor now said that he has suspended the police chief for thirty days without pay the two officers who actually through the punches are currently on administrative leave with pay pending the ongoing criminal case that has been filed against them. But the two other officers who were in the same room when the beating took place, including the mayor's son who is a sergeant on the police force to our knowledge have not been disciplined, you have described concerns about police abuse and the futility of finding anyone to investigate them. Theoretically, the police should investigate themselves. It's alleged that didn't happen. Here didn't happen seriously. But you say there was also this outside civilian review board, which is really normal is that outside review board completely powerless to investigate on its own. And is that normal across the country. It seems that the amount of questioning and investigating that these boards. Do is determined by what they would like to do in in. What also we found that nationally it appears that the trend was civilian oversight is greater independence from the police department Elkhart in the last couple of years is gone the opposite direction. We've been listening to Christian shack. Lure of the south.

Coming up next