The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department chief has suspended an officer without pay after he was seen on video punching a student in the face, saying the use of force did not seem “reasonable.”
The punishment comes two days after the incident involving an Indianapolis Public Schools student.
“The video shows a clear image of a closed fist punch to the face, a technique which is not taught or reasonable given the facts known to us at this time,” IMPD Chief Bryan Roach said in a statement Saturday morning.
The case is still under investigation. Roach noted the case “is a priority.”
IMPD has not released the name of the police officer.
Terrance Kinnard, a lawyer for the family of the student, could not be reached by Chalkbeat but released a statement to other media outlets: “Like many, we are shocked by the behavior depicted in the video currently circulating on social media networks.”
Kinnard said he and his staff will be investigating the incident before taking further action and urged the public to “allow the investigation to take place in an orderly fashion.”
IMPD officers were assisting district police Thursday afternoon with a fight at Shortridge High School when two officers stopped to address a parent outside the school. A video circulating on social media shows a woman shouting, and the officers telling her to leave and asking if she wanted to go to jail.
A student steps toward the officers, and the video shows one of them punching him in the face.
On Friday evening, IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson released a statement saying that the racial dynamics in conflicts between white police officers and black civilians could not be ignored:
“As a black woman and a mother of black children, it isn’t possible to watch the video of the incident that occurred yesterday at Shortridge without immediately thinking about the other incidents in our country that occur between white police officers and black people, especially males. Often, I am left feeling a number of emotions — devastation often chief among them.
Our team is currently working to gather all information available and, at Shortridge, the school community and the district will come together in a number of ways in the coming weeks to support the school-wide culture, with students planning alongside administrators.
But, even as all of those efforts are underway, we have a district priority around a racial equity mindset for a reason. And while our IPS team investigates and awaits the outcomes of the IMPD investigation, we can’t ignore how the dynamics of race in both our city and our country consistently undergird these situations and leave our community feeling angry, hurt and, in some cases, hopeless.
I refuse to be hopeless. I look forward to those of us who are a part of the larger TeamIPS community engaging in these challenging conversations in the weeks and months to come. I hope our community will join us.”