(ELKHART) – Two Indiana police officers who are seen on video repeatedly punching a handcuffed man were charged with a federal civil rights crime.
Cory Newland and Joshua Titus of the Elkhart Police Department were indicted by a grand jury Thursday on a charge of depriving Mario Ledesma of his rights through excessive force. Police video shows them punching Ledesma after he spat at Newland while sitting handcuffed in a chair at the police station in January 2018.
Newland and Titus have been on leave since November and have pleaded not guilty to separate state charges. Titus’ attorney, Edward Merchant, said the indictment was disappointing.
“Although we continue to investigate this matter, we remain confident that Officer Titus’ actions were objectively reasonable,” he said Friday.
But Grant Mendenhall, who heads the FBI in Indianapolis, said abuse of power won’t be tolerated.
“The alleged actions by these individuals went against everything in the oath they took to serve and protect,” he said.
Elkhart is in northern Indiana, 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of Chicago. In February, Mayor Tim Neese said a former federal prosecutor would conduct an assessment of the Elkhart Police Department, including use of force.
A new chief was named in January after the previous police chief, Ed Windbigler, downplayed the beating. Windbigler reprimanded the officers, saying they “went a little overboard.”