After defending his officers for beating a handcuffed man and promoting cops with disciplinary issues, Elkhart Police Chief Ed Windbigler recently announced his resignation from office. Windbigler was forced to resign shortly after Mayor Tim Neese contacted him and asked for his resignation.
On January 12, a surveillance video recorded Elkhart police corporals Cory Newland and Joshua Titus repeatedly punching 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 had noticeably been missing from several public forums.
Last month, Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese confirmed that Windbigler had been placed on a 30-day unpaid suspension. 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.
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.
Last week, ProPublica reported that Windbigler had promoted an officer with a drunken-driving conviction. Although Officer Brandan Roundtree pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated, Windbigler did not discipline him and promoted Roundtree to detective without informing the oversight board.
On Sunday, the mayor contacted the Elkhart police chief and asked for his resignation. In a letter addressed to members of the Elkhart Police Department, Windbigler wrote, “I admit that I am not perfect and have made mistakes, but I always tried to make sure we were making decisions that would be best for the department.”
Windbigler added, “The Mayor contacted me and stated that he wanted me to resign. So, with that said, I want to let all of you know that I will be leaving.”
In a press release late Monday night, Neese said: “This was a difficult decision, and after much consideration, I have decided to seek new leadership of the Elkhart Police Department. I appreciate Ed’s service to the police department and our community, and I wish him the very best.”
While serving as Elkhart police chief, Windbigler promoted at least 18 supervisors with disciplinary records.