UPDATE: The United States Attorney’s Office has announced it is opening a federal investigation with the FBI into the use of force incident. According to a statement, if they determine there were any “prosecutable violations of any federal criminal statutes, the Department will take appropriate action.”
INDIANAPOLIS — An IMPD sergeant facing two felony charges could lose his job, and Chief Randal Taylor is recommending Sgt. Eric Huxley’s termination. Huxley was charged with battery and official misconduct connected to a use of force investigation.
“It’s my commitment to this department and to this city that when these things come to my attention, I’m not going to allow that to exist on this department,” Taylor said.
Body camera footage captured Huxley apparently stomping on a man’s head during a September 24 arrest on Monument Circle. The man, Jermaine Vaughn, was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement.
One of the officers forced Vaughn onto the ground and maintained he was being uncooperative. Shortly after Vaughn is on the ground, video shows Huxley driving his left foot into Vaughn’s face.
“Within seconds, blood is visible in Vaughn’s mouth,” according to court documents.
“You’re done. You’re done. You’re done,” an officer is heard saying in the video.
On one of the body cameras, Huxley can be heard saying, “I accidentally kicked him in his face. I was attempting to put my foot on his shoulder and I accidentally kicked him in his face,” according to court documents.
All three officers were wearing body cameras; IMPD didn’t show footage from Huxley’s body camera, saying it didn’t have the right angle to capture the stomp.
“I know these videos when they’re seen, there’s gonna be people that are gonna say, ‘That’s what they’re all like,’” Taylor said. “Well, let me tell you, that’s not what they’re all like.”
Chief Taylor said he learned of this incident on October 6 and immediately called for an internal investigation. In accordance with IMPD’s policy, the officers involved filled out Blue Team paperwork which is required when any type of force is used.
In this case, IMPD said a sergeant reviewed the footage and sent it up the chain of command. Former IMPD Chief and Director of Public Safety Troy Riggs spoke generally about the Blue Team.
“The Blue Team is something we started when I was the director of public safety,” Riggs said. “I was not happy with the way we were doing discipline throughout public safety, especially in the police department. That basically will flag officers who are having problems. That system’s only as good as your first-line supervisors that are filling out the correct forms, that are going into the systems. So you need to make sure the technology is also backed up with training throughout the enterprise to ensure that you’re getting accurate information. And remember, that information has to be shared with the public because you have to be transparent.”
This incident happened on September 24 and Taylor announced the arrest of Huxley and the charges on October 12. Riggs spoke generally about timing of the types of investigations and when the public hears about them.
“I don’t know anything about this case in particular, but I will tell you that in the past when there’s an investigation, it’s going to be quiet,” Riggs explained. “You want to make sure that when you speak to witnesses that you’re not polluting what they already know from media statements. So, you want it to be as upfront and honest as possible, obviously, because the integrity of the investigation matters. Sometimes people in today’s world of 24-hour access don’t understand that, but the integrity of the case is extremely important for any potential victims, and also for the officer involved as well.”
Huxley is now suspended without pay as the investigation continues. The civilian-led merit board will eventually help make a final decision on Huxley’s employment.
IMPD said the merit board will likely wait to make their decision until after the case is adjudicated.