IMPD officer faces felony charges after kicking handcuffed man in face during arrest

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INDIANAPOLIS — Jermaine Vaughn told a detective he was, “practicing his First Amendment right to free speech.”

A probable cause affidavit filed with the court indicates Vaughn was “talking/yelling to no one in particular” on Sept. 24 on the east side of Monument Circle when an officer placed him in handcuffs for disorderly conduct.

IMPD body-worn camera video of the incident shows Vaughn continued to argue with Bike Officer Matthew Shores when he was forced to the ground and Sergeant Eric Huxley walked up.

“Vaughn is on his backside on the ground, looking up at Ofc. Shores,” reads the PC, “with his hands cuffed behind his back. Sgt. Huxley then walks over to Vaughn, lifts his left leg and drives his left foot down into Vaughn’s face. Within seconds, blood is visible in Vaughn’s mouth.”

That kick to the head, and the body-worn camera video that recorded it, are the reasons why Huxley, a 14-year veteran, is facing termination and felony charges of battery and official misconduct.

“I’m upset. It hurts me to see any of our officers treat someone the way you’re gonna see here. No excuse for it,” said IMPD Chief Randal Taylor moments before he released the video. “I understand that after watching this video there’s going to be some people who are upset and we’ll hope to mend those fences where we can.”

“The video in this incident speaks for itself,” Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears told FOX59 News. “I think in a case like this it’s very helpful as it depicts the events, what led to the encounter between the two individuals, and you can really kind of see the events as they progress in real-time.”

During the takedown an officer can be heard saying to Vaughn, “We’re not gonna do this, right?” and after Vaughn is kicked and appears dazed on the ground, another officer is heard telling him, “You’re done,” at least four times.

Taylor said it was nearly two weeks before he became aware of the incident which was discovered through IMPD’s standard Blue Team Use of Force reporting system.

According to records obtained by FOX59 News, Officer Shores filed a Use of Force report indicating his own actions in the arrest of Vaughn, including a leg sweep to take him to the ground.

After being questioned by a Special Investigations Unit detective about Huxley’s involvement in the arrest, Shores reportedly said, “I don’t know why he got involved like that. I’d like to ask, but I guess we’ll never know.”

According to the PC, Huxley can be heard on the body-worn camera video as 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.”

Taylor asked the community to not judge the performance of all IMPD officers based on this incident.

“Because I know these videos — when they’re seen — there’s gonna be people that are gonna say, ‘That’s what they’re all like.’ Well, let me tell you, that’s not what they’re all like.”

Prosecutor Mears said body-worn camera video often exonerates police officers when arrestees claim they were not advised of their rights or were abused during arrests, even though this incident may undermine public confidence in IMPD.

“It goes to that central issue of trust that I think our whole community is struggling right now,” he said, “as it goes to law enforcement and criminal justice as a whole and we understand an incident like this is going to erode or undermine that trust.”

While not facing any criminal charges, Shores and Sergeant Christopher Kibbey have been reassigned pending the results of an internal investigation for their roles in the arrest.

Taylor said he has referred the case to the FBI and U.S. Attorney for consideration of potential federal civil rights violations.

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