Indiana

Two police officers in a Northern Indiana town are facing criminal charges after video surfaced of a vicious assault of a man in handcuffs.

The video — which is from almost a year ago — shows two cops identified as Cory Newland and Joshua Titus repeatedly punching a handcuffed man identified as Mario Guererro Ledesma, who was in their custody in Elkhart, Indiana.

According to the South Bend Tribune, both officers have been charged with multiple counts of misdemeanor battery, and the Elkhart Police Department says Newland and Titus are on administrative leave pending the outcome of their case. The cops were given a reprimand five months ago, but didn’t face suspension or termination from the force.

Ledesma was arrested on January 12th of this year. Video shows a handcuffed Ledesma sitting down in a chair inside the detention area of the police station while Newland, Titus, and two other officers who aren’t identified surround him.

The footage then shows Ledesma appearing to spit at the direction of Newland, which results in both Newland and Titus tackling Ledesma to the ground and striking Ledesma’s head on the concrete floor. While on the ground, the officers punch Ledesma close to 10 times while shouting expletives.

Ledesma was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty in July to charges of domestic battery and resisting law enforcement, with 133 days suspended.

The Tribune also reports that the only reason the video surfaced was due to a request made by the newspaper as part of an ongoing investigation with nonprofit investigative journalism outlet ProPublica. The nonprofit has been investigating criminal justice in Elkhart County, Indiana, looking at a litany of issues like police accountability in cooperation with the newspaper’s staff.

Elkhart Police Chief Ed Windbigler didn’t address the punches thrown by Newland and Titus when he spoke to the city’s civilian oversight committee in June. Windbigler only said the officers used slightly more force than needed and “went a little overboard when they took him to the ground.” The Chief also answered “No” when asked by if Ledesma was injured.

Officer Newland has had prior complaints lodged against him resulting in disciplinary action prior to the Ledesma beating — something Chief Windbigler said Newland had none of during the June meeting with the Police Merit Commission. Newland’s record shows he has been disciplined multiple times after his hiring in 2008. In his first five years with the department, Officer Newland was suspended five times and reprimanded twice.

 

Brandon Howard is a contributor for GritPost and former public radio reporter based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @mrpowerhoward.

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