A white police sergeant in Indiana is charged with two felonies after bodycam video his department released this week was alleged to show him stomping on the head of a handcuffed homeless Black man while he was being arrested.
The sergeant, Eric Huxley, 43, a 14-year veteran with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, was charged with official misconduct and battery with moderate bodily injury, police said.
Federal authorities are also investigating Huxley's conduct in the arrest on Sept. 24 of Jermaine Vaughn, 39, who was handcuffed and on the ground when another officer's body camera appeared to show Huxley approach him and stomp once on his head with his left foot.
At an emotional news conference Tuesday, Police Chief Randal Taylor said Huxley's actions were "outrageous" and "totally uncalled for." Police said that Huxley has been suspended without pay and that Taylor will recommend termination.
"I'm upset. It hurts me to see any of our officers treat someone the way that you're going to see here shortly. No excuse for it," Taylor said, referring to the bodycam video of Vaughn's arrest on suspicion of disorderly conduct. "I promised this community, and I promised our officers, that I would be transparent. That's in good times and bad times. This is a bad time."
The police department has consulted with the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office about the case, police said.
The acting U.S. attorney for Southern Indiana, John E. Childress, said in a statement Wednesday: "The United States Attorney's Office is aware of the incident involving an IMPD officer and Jermaine Vaughn. Our office and the FBI have opened an investigation, and if the investigation reveals prosecutable violations of any federal criminal statutes, the Department will take appropriate action."
Huxley's attorney, John Kautzman, said in a statement that his client looks forward to proving he did not act illegally or with criminal intent.
"Over the course of his nearly 15-year career, Sgt. Huxley has been an exemplary police officer. He has never before faced criminal charges or any type of department discipline or excessive force allegations," Kautzman said.
"He is very sorry about any pain caused to Mr. Vaughn as a result of his actions and the negative scrutiny upon his Department and fellow officers," he said. "This incident resulted from his perception of the need to attempt a trained police technique that unfortunately struck Mr. Vaughn in an unintended area of his body."
Police said Tuesday that two other officers involved in Vaughn's arrest, Sgt. Christopher Kibbey, a 21-year veteran, and Officer Matthew Shores, who has 23 years in the department, were placed on administrative duty pending an internal investigation. Neither Kibbey nor Shores could immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Police said video of Vaughn's arrest was captured on the officers' body cameras, but the alleged stomp to the head was not shown on Huxley's body camera. The three officers all had their body cameras on while Vaughn was arrested, police said.
Taylor said that as part of the internal investigation, the officers' histories of use-of-force incidents will be reviewed, as well as any use-of-force incidents Huxley reviewed as a supervisor.
Each of the videos released by police is about one minute long. The videos were edited by police. NBC News does not know what preceded the events in the videos, nor what occurred shortly after.
Police said Shores' video captures Huxley's alleged stomp to Vaughn's head. Both videos also capture, from different vantage points, Shores taking Vaughn to the ground.
In Shores' bodycam video, Vaughn appears to tell an officer, "Nobody cares what you do anymore," multiple times before an officer appears to tells him to lean back and pushes Vaughn in the upper chest multiple times.
A struggle ensues, and the officer looks as though he takes Vaughn to the ground. That is when Huxley, police said, is seen stomping on Vaughn's head. Shortly before the video ends, someone can be heard yelling, "Police brutality."
In a probable cause affidavit listing Huxley's charges, an investigator wrote that she spoke with Vaughn, who said he had been homeless for about a year and was practicing free speech in the city's Monument Circle before he was arrested. The affidavit said Huxley can be heard saying in unreleased body camera video: "I accidently kicked him in his face. I was attempting to put my foot on his shoulder and I accidently kicked him in his face."
NBC affiliate WTHR of Indianapolis reported that the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police said it welcomed the investigation.
"We too are troubled by the images within this video. We welcome a full and forthright review of the related facts involved. While the camera's perspective is only one of many ... it is an important perspective nonetheless," the group said. "Gathering such factors is one of several reasons our organization was the first to call for such a body worn camera system to be implemented within the IMPD. Now that we know such a review is underway, we will continue to monitor this matter and await its final determinations."
Vaughn's relatives could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday.
Malone told the TV station that her family had been looking for Vaughn for two years.
"You never know what you're going to do or say until it happens to you or someone you love," she said.
She said Vaughn was a good, hard-working man before he developed paranoid schizophrenia.