INDIANAPOLIS- Four Indianapolis police officers were indicted yesterday by a grand jury investigating an incident in which off-duty members of the city's emergency Mobile Field Force harassed and beat men and women while partying in a busy downtown entertainment district.
The Aug. 27 incident, known as the "policemen's brawl", is one in a series of bizarre and brazen behavior by city police officers, who, critics say, are undisciplined, arrogant and dangerous to the very public health that they are sworn to protect.
Other incidents cited by those critics:
In April, a nine-year veteran of the department was forced to resign and then indicted on nine felony charges of bribery, sexual battery and sexual misconduct after at least five women complained that he had threatened to arrest them if they didn't have sex with him. He had used his patrol car computer to get their names, addresses and phone numbers after noting their license plates.
In March, a city police officer was arrested after a 15-mile chase by an Indiana State trooper. He was stopped for driving more than 100 mph on an interstate through town. The officer was hurrying because he was late for a training session with his police dog.
Also in March, an Indianapolis police officer was demoted after he was videotaped at a Sovereign Patriots militia meeting in his police uniform. On the videotape aired by a local television station, the police officer referred disparagingly to Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who is Jewish, as "Goldstein", and boasted that he did not believe in enforcing laws requiring seat belts or motorcycle helmets.
Many, but not all, of the complaints about abusive city police behavior have come from black civilians and black city police officers, who say an "old boy" network has protected the city's white police officers and bred arrogance.
The demonstrations are a response to not only the incidents listed above, but to a long history of abusive police behavior in the city's black neighborhood, critics said.
They noted that city officials and others are only addressing the issue now because the "policemen's brawl" occurred in the downtown area in front of at least 50 witnesses, both black and white. Initially, Mayor Goldsmith briefly postponed his hotly contested gubernatorial campaign to deal with the matter. It has been particularly troublesome for him not only because of his election fight but also because one of the officers involved lives with Goldsmith's longtime personal assistant, who attended the ball game but not the post game events.
In addition, Goldsmith was forced to ask for the resignation of Police Chief after it was revealed that just two days after the brawl he joined some of the accused officers at another baseball game.