Two Indiana police officers were charged with assault Wednesday after a video emerged showing them violently arrest two women at a protest.
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced Aug. 12 that Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officers Jonathan Horlock and Nathaniel Schauwecker have been charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors in connection to the May 31 arrests. Footage of the incident shows the officers repeatedly striking with batons and balls, the Indy Star reported.
Horlock has been indicted on three counts of battery, official misconduct, perjury and obstruction of justice, while Schauwecker is facing four counts of battery and two counts of official misconduct, according to the prosecutor’s office.
“I hold great respect for our criminal justice system and have faith that this process will deliver a just outcome,” IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said in a statement obtained by the Indy Star.
Ivoré Westfield and Rachel Harding of Indianapolis claimed the officers battered them without cause and used excessive force about 45 minutes after curfew, the newspaper said.
The officers have been placed on administrative duty and an internal investigation remains underway, the outlet added.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Officers Arrested the Women for Violating Curfew, They Said
A curfew is now in effect for Marion County until 6am tomorrow, June 7.
For those who continue to peacefully exercise their first amendment right to assemble, our focus will be on ensuring their safe return to their cars and their homes following the conclusion of the protest. pic.twitter.com/SIxXhVBEnp
— IMPD (@IMPDnews) June 7, 2020
The women were approached by the officers around 8:45 p.m., slightly after the 8 p.m. curfew, as they were walking to Harding’s car to drive home, according to the newspaper. The officers proceeded to tell them they were violating the curfew and were under arrest, court records show.
Local television crews captured the May arrests, showing the two officers striking Westfield repeatedly “with batons while another officer fires what appears to be pepper balls at her after she twists free of an officer holding her from behind,” the Times wrote.
Harding then interjects, yelling “Why her?” before an officer is seen pushing her down backwards, NYT said.
The newspaper reported that Westfield suffered from “severe swelling” and bruising on her lower body, according to court documents.
Westfield and Harding filed an “excessive force lawsuit in federal court against the four officers. The women are seeking seeking damages, attorney’s fees, litigation costs and other expenses,” the New York Times indicated.
Footage of the Arrest is Going Viral
Although the arrests happened back in May, footage of the incident is continuing to circulate online.
One clip was picked up by the popular Twitter account, Fifty Shades of Whey, on Aug. 13 with the caption: “Two officers in Indiana charged with assault after attacking women over a curfew violation”
Two officers in Indiana charged with assault after attacking women over a curfew violation pic.twitter.com/AmqJjuScSb
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) August 13, 2020
The video has since been viewed over 60,000 times with many condemning the acts of the officers.
Some users questioned why the use of force was necessary, while others criticized the integrity of the men.
Below are some of the responses:
There are so many other ways they could have handled this situation that did not involve violence. "Officers of the Peace" is a lost concept. They are officers of violence.
— Kat McKay (@KatFahrerMcKay) August 13, 2020
I’m appalled with how easily and quickly the police turn to violence as the remedy for a situation.
— Shamik (@skhamik) August 13, 2020
Im certain they beat on their wives as well. Animals.
— Toni 🦋♥️ (@tonipayne) August 13, 2020
The Indianapolis Police Officers’ Union Says it is Looking Forward to a ‘Fair & Public Airing’ of the Facts
The union addressed the lawsuit in an Aug. 12 statement posted to its website, saying it is looking forward to a “fair and public airing” of the situation.
“While officers prefer to avoid any use of force, we fully recognize the requirement to safely and swiftly effectuate the lawful arrest of individuals when called upon to do so, especially during tense and rapidly evolving events,” the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police said in the statement.