INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A homeless woman is behind bars after police say she beat a woman inside Circle Centre Mall.
The unprovoked assault this week follows a series of arrests around downtown involving the same suspect.
Court records show the homeless suspect, identified as 23-year-old Adilah Patton, had been released from jail eight days earlier for a different battery case on a police officer.
Some say the case illustrates again the revolving door of justice in Marion County where people walk in and out of jail without being given the treatment or punishment they truly need.
“We just have portions of the system that are broken,” said Rick Snyder, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “The folks that are stuck in the middle of this is our residents, visitors and law enforcement officers.”
Walking with friends inside Circle Centre Mall, a woman was suddenly punched several times in the face by a total stranger for no reason.
Patton was arrested and charged with the assault. It turns out she had already been banned from the mall for previous incidents of trespassing.
“She’s not the only one who has mental health issues. My homeless unit deals with that on a daily basis,” said Phil Burton, the downtown district commander for IMPD.
Court records show Patton has been charged 17 times over the last 2 years with trespassing, theft and battery around downtown. While IMPD’s downtown district tries to connect some homeless with mental health services, police say the court system needs do a better job of holding people like Patton accountable.
“Unfortunately, we do have to arrest people who break the law,” said Burton. “Our hope is to have the cycle broken, but it’s beyond our capability. It has to come from the courts.”
“What can be done differently is to enforce the rules and ensure accountability,” said Snyder. “The system of law cannot occur if there’s no accountability built into it.”
Snyder calls the case “catch-and-release” criminal justice.
Just last month, Patton was booked into jail on a felony for allegedly throwing a drink on a police officer. The courts released Patton the next day, then issued a warrant three days later when she violated her release, before releasing her again on probation after ordering a mental health evaluation. Her final release in that case took place one week before the assault at Circle Centre.
“At what point does someone say ‘timeout?’ If we care about this person, we’re going to require them to get help,” said Snyder.
Patton remains behind bars at the Marion County jail after being placed on a seven-day hold.