After three Indiana police officers were previously indicted for severely beating arrestees and attempting to cover up their illicit actions, a fourth officer was recently charged with obstruction related to another incident of excessive force.
In March 2020, Muncie Police Officer Joseph Chase Winkle, Sergeant Joseph Krejsa, and Officer Jeremy Gibson were charged in a 12-count indictment accusing Winkle and Gibson of using excessive force against arrestees while Krejsa wrote false reports to clear Winkle’s civil rights violations on at least two occasions. On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that a federal grand jury in Indianapolis, Indiana, returned a 17-count superseding indictment charging three officers and one sergeant of the Muncie Police Department with excessive force and obstruction.
According to the Justice Department, Officer Winkle, son of the former police chief, deprived five arrestees of their rights to be free from excessive force, while Gibson deprived two arrestees of their rights to be free from excessive force. The superseding indictment adds additional excessive force and false report charges against Winkle and Gibson related to a sixth incident, along with charging Officer Corey Posey with obstruction.
In May 2018, officers Winkle, Posey, and Gibson were a part of a group of officers who allegedly used excessive force against Emanuel Montero during a traffic stop. In a federal lawsuit filed against the city last year, Montero accused the officers of tasing, punching, and kicking him for several minutes while searching for contraband in his vehicle.
According to the lawsuit, the officers did not find anything illegal in Montero’s car and released him without issuing a citation. Montero alleged that he sustained three broken ribs and fractures to his face as a result of the incident.
Winkle is charged with five counts of depriving five different arrestees of their rights to be free from excessive force, and six counts writing false reports about his uses of force against those arrestees, as well as two other arrestees. According to the superseding indictment, Winkle’s actions included kicking, punching, knee-striking, and using a Taser on arrestees without justification, which resulted in bodily injury to the arrestees.
Gibson is charged with two counts of depriving two arrestees of their rights to be free from excessive force, and one count of writing a false report about his use of force against one of those arrestees. According to the superseding indictment, Gibson’s actions included punching, stomping on, and knee-striking arrestees without justification, which resulted in bodily injury to both arrestees.
Charged with two counts of writing false reports related to two of Winkle’s excessive force incidents, Sgt. Krejsa allegedly minimized the level of force used by Winkle during one arrest, and, on another occasion, falsely represented that a different Muncie Police Department sergeant cleared Winkle of his use of force when it was actually Krejsa who conducted that review.
Posey is charged with one count of writing a false report related to one of Winkle’s excessive force incidents. According to the superseding indictment, Posey’s use of force report misrepresented the arrestee’s behavior, and mischaracterized and omitted Winkle’s unlawful use of force during the incident.
The maximum penalty for the deprivation-of-rights offenses is 10 years of imprisonment and the maximum penalty for false report offenses is 20 years of imprisonment.