INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- When Melvin Hall Jr. was arrested in June of 2015 and charged with impersonating a police officer, he was up against some powerful forces.
“It is a risk to the community to have individuals who are not employed, trained or certified by a law enforcement agency posing as officers,” said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry at the time of Hall’s indictment by a grand jury.
“Having Melvin Hall and his employees out in our community fraudulently acting as police officers jeopardizes public safety,” said then-Attorney General Greg Zoeller two weeks later as he moved to revoke the license of Hall’s Urban Tactical Response Agency.
And then there were the witness accounts in court documents.
“He identified himself as Lieutenant Hall with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department,” one witness told investigators. “He had arrest powers,” one witness claimed Hall said. “’If you try to run, I will shoot,’” another quoted Hall telling him outside a North Meridian Street apartment building where he patrolled.
Last month a Marion Superior judge found the accounts contradictory, unsupported by witnesses who refused to testify and tainted by their connections to Hall’s former employer and 2015 business competitor. The judge returned not guilty verdicts on two felonies and a misdemeanor.
“I had over 35 clients and not one of my clients ever stepped up and said that accusation was made,” said Hall. “I lost clients because I obviously lost my license to operate. I could no longer operate my actual business.”
Hall’s attorney, former Public Safety Director Robert Turner, said his client was the victim of prosecutors genuinely worried about unethical security guards who portray themselves as police officers while being misled by the owner of a competing security company who brought forth all the alleged witnesses and evidence.
“I don’t think the prosecutor looked at the other side,” said Turner. “If he had actually interviewed my client during the grand jury process, he would have discovered there’s a connection and in fact my client worked formerly for this security company. He then got his own license and started competing and when he started competing that’s when the conflict started.
“He was targeted because he became competition for the agency he formerly worked for.”
“I chose to stand up when I saw deceptive practice being done by my former employer,” said Hall. “I said something about it, that’s the reason they came after me.”
IMPD came after Hall that day with an armored vehicle and the SWAT team.
Investigators recovered two handguns which Hall was licensed to carry.
“I’ve worked in this industry for over ten years,” said Hall. “I’ve testified on behalf of the prosecutors office. I’ve spoken with prosecutors. I’ve worked alongside IMPD officers and sheriffs deputies my entire career of doing security and to me it just didn’t make sense.
“So, you send all this as if I am a danger to society when in all seriousness the danger to society is the people who sent this investigation toward you. They’re the true danger to society. They have badges and they orchestrated situations that just should not have occurred.”
The Marion County Prosecutors Office was not available for comment on Hall’s acquittals.
Hall is now continuing his career as a security guard.
“You go to work everyday like anybody else. You try to do a job. You go home. It's not about being anybody you’re not.”
Turner called on state lawmakers to toughen up vehicle, uniform and training requirements of licensed security guards in order to avert future police impersonation cases.