KOKOMO, Ind. – A Kokomo police officer broke a man’s nose during a road rage confrontation that led to a battery charge, investigators say.
Court documents revealed that Roy Smith told a colleague that “no one could know about this” when explaining what led to his injured wrist less than a month after the encounter.
The other officer then realized Roy Smith must have been involved in the May 2022 road rage case he’d investigated. The suspect, in that case, had been elusive until then and the investigation had been suspended due to a lack of information.
Smith, a Kokomo police officer, is charged with battery resulting in serious bodily injury (a felony) and disorderly conduct (a misdemeanor) in connection with the off-duty encounter.
The incident happened on May 22, 2022. A Swayzee man, his wife, and their 4-year-old grandson were on their way to a restaurant for a family gathering when they said an SUV pulled out in front of their van on Southway Boulevard, causing the driver to slam on her brakes. The driver then honked at the SUV as it signaled for a left turn. Instead of turning, however, the SUV followed the van to the restaurant’s parking lot.
That led to a confrontation in which Smith punched the van’s 60-year-old passenger and shoved him to the ground, according to court documents. He suffered a broken nose, fractured orbital, and fractured rib. The man, who had a gun holstered on his hip, also said he feared Smith planned to disarm and shoot him.
Accounts from the man and Smith varied, as did those from eyewitnesses. All accounts agreed that both men got out of their vehicles and argued with each other. The man who was injured said Smith threw the first punch, while Smith said it was the other way around.
A witness said the other man yelled at Smith first but believed Smith struck first. The other man “was able to get a few hits before falling to the ground,” the witness said, according to court documents. The witness, who worked at a nearby Taco Bell, asked the man if he wanted her to call the police. The man said no.
Smith claimed the man and his wife flipped him off as they passed his SUV. He pulled up next to them at a stoplight at Southway Boulevard and State Road 931. The couple said Smith yelled at them; Smith claimed they flipped him off once again. The man told police he “only smiled at him” and didn’t say anything as Smith yelled.
In the man’s account, Smith punched him on the right side of the face, causing him to fall to the ground. When he tried to get up, Smith pushed him back down and told him not to get up, according to court documents. The man then said Smith went for the gun holstered on his hip; he was afraid his attacker would take his gun and use it against him. Smith then got into his SUV and drove away.
The man’s wife said Smith “immediately started punching” her husband during the encounter and then hit him again while he was on the ground. She also said Smith had a teen in his car who told Smith to stop. Smith ordered the teen back into the SUV before they left.
During his interview with police on June 29, Smith said he was taking his stepson to work when a car began “blaring” its horn as he made a left turn. Instead of turning, he followed the van, confronted the driver and passenger at a stoplight and then pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot because he wanted to “see what their issue was.”
Smith said the man came at him and threw the first punch, leading him to respond in kind. He thought about grabbing the man’s gun but thought better of it, according to court documents. Smith said he never identified himself as a police officer and didn’t have a weapon on him. He didn’t mention the encounter to supervisors because he never saw a police report about it.
He said he suffered a knot to the front of his head and lacerations to the back of his head, according to court documents. He didn’t have any pictures of the injuries.
It’s entirely possible the incident could’ve gone away without further investigation. After all, Smith didn’t report it. No one knew the other driver’s identity in the road rage incident.
On June 13, however, Smith was talking to another officer on the gun range at the Kokomo Police Department. He mentioned his wrist was hurting because he got into an altercation and explained what had happened. The officer realized some of the details matched the unsolved May 22 incident he’d investigated. At the time, there was no suspect.
According to the officer’s report, Smith said he’d attempted to disarm the other man when he saw the gun holstered on his hip. Smith confided in the other officer, “No one could know about this,” according to court documents.
That conversation was the impetus for further investigation.
The Kokomo Police Department placed Smith on administrative leave on June 17 once the department learned the off-duty officer was a suspect in a battery case. KPD turned the investigation over to Indiana State Police; a special prosecutor from Tippecanoe County filed charges on Sept. 8.
Smith has been with the department since 2005.