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Settlement reached in police brutality case

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INDIANAPOLIS – The city of Indianapolis has reached a settlement in the police brutality case involving Brandon Johnson.

The case dates back to May 2010, when Johnson, then 15 years old, was severely beaten while police were arresting his younger brother. Johnson’s face was battered and bloodied, his nose broken and some of his teeth chipped.

Police said Johnson intervened during the arrest, escalating the situation.

An internal affairs investigation by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department concluded that Officer Jerry Piland—one of the three officers involved in the case—should be fired. Paul Ciesielski, who was police chief at the time, also called for Piland’s firing. The board later cleared the officer in connection with the case.

According to Johnson’s attorney, Piland lived nearby and arrived at the scene even though he was off duty. Johnson said Piland drove his knee into his face several times while he was already handcuffed.

The U.S. Department of Justice also investigated the case, but didn’t file any criminal charges after determining there was insufficient evidence to do so. The investigation couldn’t prove that the officers “willfully” beat him.

Stephen Wagner, Johnson’s attorney, said both sides settled a civil suit filed last year, characterizing it as a “fair outcome for all parties.”

Wagner said Johnson is finishing his junior year in high school and made the Dean’s List, adding that Johnson is “more than ready to put the last three years behind him.”

In a statement released to the media, Johnson said, “The last three years have been really tough on me and my family. I just want to move on with my life, finish high school, and go to college. I do want to thank the police officers who have approached me in the last three years and told me they support me. That meant a lot, especially because I really didn’t trust the police after this happened.”