UPDATE (10/06/2023): On Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed they have declined to file criminal charges against the woman arrested in this story. Read about the story here.
LAWRENCE, Ind. — A Marion County woman was arrested in Lawrence this week and charged with standing within 25 feet of a police investigation, which is illegal under a new Indiana law.
Court documents show that a woman from Indianapolis was arrested Monday in Lawrence and preliminarily booked for “obstruction by encroaching on an investigation,” among other charges.
“Unlawful encroachment on an investigation” is a law passed by Indiana legislators earlier this year that gives police a 25-foot buffer to perform any of their duties.
Under the law, which was approved over the summer, a person can be arrested if they move toward police “after the law enforcement officer has ordered [them] to stop approaching.”
Now, it appears that local police are beginning to enforce the law.
A report filed by the Lawrence Police Department on Monday, Oct. 2, shows that officers were called around 3 p.m. to the 4200 block of N. Franklin Road for an investigation.
According to the LPD report, during the investigation officers arrested a woman who was subsequently booked into jail on the following charges:
- Escape, a level 5 felony,
- Resisting law enforcement, a level A misdemeanor, and
- Obstruction – encroaching on an investigation, a level C misdemeanor.
According to a police narrative written by an LPD officer, the woman was seen recording officers on her phone while they were serving an arrest warrant at a local gas station.
While the woman was initially over 25 feet away and thus complying with the law, LPD said she eventually got closer.
Once the suspect being arrested on a warrant was being loaded into an ambulance for treatment, LPD said the woman got within a foot of the ambulance and continued to record.
LPD said officers explained that the woman was violating encroachment law, but she verbally disagreed.
“This is an ambulance,” the woman allegedly said to officers, “not your police car.”
The woman was then told to turn around and was subsequently handcuffed, LPD said. She later reportedly was able to free one of her hands from the cuffs, officers said, but was soon lawfully detained again.
The passage of the State’s police encroachment law was not universally praised in the Central Indiana area.
Less than two months after the bill was approved, the ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit claiming that the new law prevents Hoosier law enforcement from being held accountable.
The law, which went into effect on July 1, 2023, was called a violation of constitutional rights by the ACLU, which claimed that citizens have a right to “observe and record the police.”
This article will be updated with more information as it becomes available.