Monday, March 25, 2019

Police Chief suspended after video reveals officers beating handcuffed man

Elkhart Police Chief Ed Windbigler was suspended for failing to promptly notify the mayor of the assault and “understating the severity of the incident” to the Police Merit Commission, a civilian oversight board.

Image Credit: Sam Householder/The Elkhart Truth/AP

Following the release of a surveillance video depicting two police corporals repeatedly punching a handcuffed man in the face, an Indiana mayor announced Tuesday that the Elkhart police chief has been suspended for his role in the incident. Instead of issuing suspensions or termination for his officers’ actions, Elkhart Police Chief Ed Windbigler merely reprimanded them after reviewing the video of the assault.

On January 12, a surveillance video recorded Elkhart police corporals Cory Newland and Joshua Titus repeatedly punch Mario Guerrero Ledesma in the face as he sat in the police station’s detention area with his hands cuffed behind his back. The officers continued punching Ledesma more than 10 times before another cop ordered them to stop.

Despite the fact that Newland and Titus blatantly abused their authority and appeared to break the law by violating the handcuffed man’s rights, Chief Windbigler disciplined them by issuing reprimands instead of suspensions or termination. After the public release of the video, Windbigler has noticeably been missing from several recent public forums.

On Tuesday, Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese confirmed that Windbigler had been placed on a 30-day unpaid suspension that began two weeks ago without any public notification. According to a spokeswoman for Neese, Windbigler was suspended for failing to promptly notify the mayor of the assault and “understating the severity of the incident” to the Police Merit Commission, a civilian oversight board.

Earlier this month, Newland and Titus were charged with misdemeanor battery for their roles in the incident. They have been placed on paid 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.

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