INDIANAPOLIS – A former New Castle police officer now faces federal charges after being accused of using excessive force against three people.
A federal grand jury in Indianapolis returned an indictment last week charging Aaron Strong with three counts of deprivation under color of law and one count of witness tampering.
Strong is accused of violating the rights of three individuals by employing unreasonable force against them. The assaults left all three with injuries. According to the indictment, two of the attacks involved dangerous weapons: a collapsible baton and a less-lethal “bean bag” round fired from a shotgun.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years each. Strong is also accused of witness tampering, which carries a 20-year maximum.
One of the charges stemmed from an August 2019 incident in which Strong was accused of striking a man 20 times with a collapsible baton while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground.
The man was arrested and brought to the Henry County Jail for examination before being taken to jail. He suffered serious injuries to his head, jaw, arms and back.
Strong and another officer had stopped the man in the early morning hours of Aug. 18, 2019, because he looked suspicious. He ran away after the officers confronted him, but they quickly caught up and he surrendered.
Strong hit him with the baton while he was lying prone on the ground in handcuffs. Other officers saw what happened and reported it to their supervisors, saying there was no reason for Strong to strike the detainee.
Indiana State Police investigated the incident. A special prosecutor filed a misdemeanor criminal recklessness charge against Strong. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 180 days, with the sentence suspended to probation.
The witness tampering charge against Strong stems from accusations that he lied to an Indiana State Police officer about the August 2019 incident. The indictment said Strong “knowingly made false statements” to the officer.
Strong is also accused of using excessive force against two detainees on July 12, 2017. He was acting as an officer with the New Castle Police Department and commander of the Henry County SWAT team when he kicked a detainee in the head “without legal justification,” according to the indictment.
Strong also shot a “bean bag shotgun round at close range without legal justification,” injuring a second detainee, according to the indictment. The offense resulted in bodily injury and involved the use of a dangerous weapon.
Strong resigned from the New Castle Police Department in December 2019.