ELKHART, Ind. — An Indiana police chief who downplayed the beating of a handcuffed suspect by two officers by telling an oversight board they used “a little more force than needed” and “went a little overboard” has been suspended for 30 days without pay, the city’s mayor confirmed Tuesday.
Elkhart police Chief Ed Windbigler’s suspension began Nov. 14, said Tim Neese, the mayor of the city 15 miles east of South Bend.
Neese also told WNDU-TV that he has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the police department, but he didn’t elaborate on the request. A State Police spokesman, Capt. David Bursten, said last week that his agency declined Neese’s request to investigate the department and suggested Neese instead approach the Justice Department.
The South Bend Tribune and ProPublica were cooperating on a series of stories about the Elkhart County justice system when a Tribune reporter noticed a disparity between what Windbigler told a civilian oversight commission about the Jan. 12 beating of Mario Guerrero Ledesma and what the chief wrote in personnel files.
The news outlets requested the video of the beating, which was released this month before the two officers, Cory Newland and Joshua Titus, were charged with misdemeanor battery and placed on administrative leave. They’re due to make initial court appearances on Monday.
Windbigler told the Police Merit Commission in June that the officers used “a little more force than needed” and “went a little overboard” after Ledesma spit toward Newland, and the officers were reprimanded for the beating but disciplined no further at that time.
Ledesma, who had been arrested on domestic violence charges, later pleaded guilty.
Windbigler does not have a published home telephone number and he could not be reached for comment.