MUNCIE, Ind. — A federal lawsuit has been filed against the Muncie Police Department and the city of Muncie.
The lawsuit was filed on October. 22 on the behalf of Jessie Vernon. Vernon was arrested on June 9, 2018, in Muncie, Indiana near Gharkey and Jackson Streets.
Officer Chase Hunter stopped Vernon and another person “for riding bicycles without proper lighting.”
Officer Chase Winkle later arrives to assist. Hunter is heard on camera telling Officer Winkle he saw Vernon throw something into the bushes as he called him over. Hunter then searches the area and, in a police report, says he found a plastic bag with a “crystallized substance.”
Hunter then advises Winkle to arrest Vernon. That’s when the fight begins, and Vernon begins to scream. During the scuffle, both officer’s body cameras fell to the ground. The lawsuit says during the fight, Winkle threw Jessie on the ground, beat him and repeatedly tased him. It also says Hunter participated.
“I think the video speaks for itself. I think anyone who watches this video would have questions about what happened that night. And would want an additional investigation as to retain what actually did go on,” said Rob King and Associates, Attorney, Robert King.
King says his client suffered injuries during the arrest.
“He sustained a serious injury to his collar bone. Required several surgeries to address that injury. And still suffers from some of the effects of that injury,” said King.
In the video, Winkle says he was ‘fighting’ with Vernon multiple times.
Vernon was arrested and charged with dealing meth possession of a controlled substance, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting a law enforcement officer.
Vernon pleaded not guilty and the prosecutor eventually dropped the charges due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
“We are unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt which person threw the bag,” said Delaware County Prosecuting Attorney, Eric Hoffman.
In September police Chief Joe Winkle confirmed to us, the Justice Department was investigating an arrest involving his son Chase Winkle. The Chief is also named in the lawsuit. The Chief is accused of being “deliberately indifferent” when it comes to the training of officers in his department.
The lawsuit states Chase Hunter and Chase Winkle, “knowingly or recklessly made false, misleading or incomplete statements in support of a probable cause affidavit.”
In the meantime, King and Vernon are awaiting their day in court.
“I think thematically Mr. Vernon just wants justice. He just wants accountability for what happened,” said King.
Mayor-elect Dan Ridenour tells us in an exclusive interview that there are good officers within the Muncie Police Department but there are some who need to be disciplined. He says that is happening behind the scene. But he hopes it happens sooner rather than later.