Caught on video repeatedly punching a handcuffed man in the face, two Indiana police officers were charged with battery Friday after the release of the video depicting their actions. Although the officers received reprimands for the incident five months ago, they were not charged until the video became public.
On January 12, Elkhart police officers arrested Mario Guerrero Ledesma for felony domestic battery in front of a child, battery on a police officer, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and resisting law enforcement. While being booked in the police station’s detention area, Ledesma sat in a chair with his hands cuffed behind his back.
“Don’t spit,” Corporal Cory Newland ordered. “Swallow, bro.”
Immediately after Ledesma spat at the cop, Newland and Corporal Joshua Titus repeatedly punched the handcuffed man in the face as he fell backwards and hit the floor. The officers continued punching Ledesma more than 10 times before another cop ordered them to stop.
In July, Ledesma pleaded guilty to charges of domestic battery and resisting law enforcement, and was sentenced to a year in jail, with 133 days suspended. Five months ago, Elkhart Police Chief Ed Windbigler disciplined Newland and Titus for the attack by giving them reprimands, instead of suspensions or termination.
On October 26, the investigation was referred to the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office for further review. On November 2, the prosecutor’s office informed the department that both officers would be charged with criminal battery, a class A misdemeanor.
Newland and Titus have been put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal case. According to ProPublica, Newland has been suspended six times and was reprimanded twice in his first five years at the Elkhart Police Department for misconduct and reckless driving.