2 Elkhart officers charged in beating of handcuffed man

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — Two Indiana police officers who are seen on video repeatedly punching a handcuffed man were charged with a federal civil rights crime.

Cory Newland and Joshua Titus of the Elkhart Police Department were indicted by a grand jury Thursday on a charge of depriving Mario Ledesma of his rights through excessive force. Police video shows them punching Ledesma after he spat at Newland while sitting handcuffed in a chair at the police station in January 2018.

Newland and Titus have been on leave since November and have pleaded not guilty to separate state charges. A message seeking comment was left with Elkhart police Friday.

“The FBI won’t tolerate the abuse of power or victimization of citizens by anyone in law enforcement,” said Grant Mendenhall, who heads the FBI in Indianapolis. “The alleged actions by these individuals went against everything in the oath they took to serve and protect.”

Elkhart is in northern Indiana, 100 miles east of Chicago. In February, Mayor Tim Neese said a former federal prosecutor would conduct an assessment of the Elkhart Police Department, including use of force.

A new chief was named in January after the previous police chief, Ed Windbigler, downplayed the beating. He reprimanded the officers, saying they “went a little overboard.”

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