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home : most recent : st. joseph December 15, 2018


11/23/2018 5:29:00 PM
'No less than a purposeful cover-up,' Elkhart councilman says of police investigation
At a town hall meeting Tuesday, Elkhart’s Terry Karre tells Mayor Tim Neese police officers involved in the videotaped beating of a handcuffed man should’ve been fired. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
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At a town hall meeting Tuesday, Elkhart’s Terry Karre tells Mayor Tim Neese police officers involved in the videotaped beating of a handcuffed man should’ve been fired. Staff photo by Michael Caterina

South Bend Tribune



One after another, speakers at a town hall meeting Tuesday in Elkhart criticized the city’s Police Department after recent revelations about officers who beat a handcuffed man and the disciplinary records of the agency’s supervisors.

The town hall was the third public forum hosted by the mayor in a week, each one dominated by talk of the police. Last week, the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica reported that 28 of the department’s 34 supervisors, including Police Chief Ed Windbigler, had been previously disciplined. Fifteen have been suspended. Seven have been involved in at least one fatal shooting. Early this month, the news organizations published video of two officers punching a suspect in the face in the police station’s detention area.

Most of the speakers Tuesday wanted to talk about the beating — and what happened afterward. Windbigler issued written reprimands to officers Cory Newland and Joshua Titus five months after the fact, and he described their actions to a civilian oversight board as going “a little overboard,” with no mention of the punches thrown. Only after The Tribune requested the video did the city announce this month that the officers would face criminal charges. The video shows two other officers — including Sgt. Drew Neese, the son of Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese — looking on as the handcuffed suspect is beaten. 

“They should have been fired on the spot,” one man told the mayor during Tuesday’s meeting. “And, with respect to you, sir, your own son should be, too.”

While a few speakers defended the police, saying they put their lives on the line for the good of the community, one man asked the mayor, “Why does the trust in the chief remain?” He asked Neese if he contested anything in the recent story by The Tribune and ProPublica about the department’s supervisors, including one who was promoted to sergeant after having been disciplined more than two dozen times.

At that, Todd Thayer, the Police Department’s assistant chief, spoke up from the back of the room, saying he wanted to respond to the question. He walked to the front and, for the next 10 minutes, defended his officers and attacked the media.

Thayer described the department’s reaction when it started receiving public records requests from a Tribune reporter: “Who is this guy? … What’s all this digging? And it’s just, request after request after request.” Thayer said the police went to the city’s legal department and asked:

“Does anybody know what’s going on? Everything’s going good in Elkhart. Why are they coming over here, into our backyard, and trying to disrupt everything we built?”

Related Links:
• South Bend Tribune full text

Related Stories:
• Elkhart mayor yet to request DOJ investigation into the police department
• Indiana State Police decline request to investigate Elkhart Police Department
• Nearly all officers in charge of Elkhart police have been disciplined
• Elkhart mayor calls for 'complete investigation' of city police
• Elkhart Police chief Ed Windbigler serving a 30-day unpaid suspension
• Elkhart council members: Private investigation of city police may be necessary
• Mayor Neese says he will seek independent review of Elkhart Police Department
• Elkhart police chief stepping down at mayor's request
• New Elkhart police chief from inside or outside the department?
• Elkhart, city police police named in 2016 death civil suit
• Unclear future for Elkhart police following chief resignation at mayor's request

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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