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Chief May Seek Charges In Fake Fight That Injured Officer

Chief May Seek Charges In Fake Fight That Injured Officer

Indianapolis Star via YellowBrix

August 03, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS – Police Chief Paul Ciesielski may seek criminal charges against people involved in staging a fight at a Westside community meeting that injured an IMPD officer.

“It was more than stupid, what they did,” Ciesielski said. “It was dangerous. A battery of a police officer did occur. I’ll have to see what our options are.”

Mount Vernon Community Missionary Baptist Church official James Harrington, who organized the meeting, and other representatives of the church could not be reached for comment Monday.

Sgt. Matthews Grimes was injured trying to break up the phony fisticuffs at the Municipal Gardens Community Center, 1831 Lafayette Road, on July 24.

Harrington and the center’s manager, Willard Gupton, had invited Grimes to the park to give a talk to residents on improving police-citizen communication.

During Grimes’ presentation, two men in the audience began scuffling, Ciesielski said, in an apparent effort to test how police respond to real events.

“Grimes didn’t know any of this was planned,” Ciesielski said. “It wasn’t a knock-down, drag-out fight, but they were going at it and Matthew went there to intervene.”

The police report did not identify the combatants, who were in their early 20s. Grimes got between them to keep them apart and was knocked to his knees, wrenching his back. The impact also knocked his radio off his shoulder and out of reach.

As Grimes, the only officer there, was reaching for his pepper spray, Harrington intervened and announced that it was all staged.

“It’s just ridiculous,” Ciesielski said. ’There are too many things that can go wrong to count."

If the actors had used fake guns or knives, or if the crowd had gotten involved in the brawl, it easily could have spiraled out of control with tragic results, Ciesielski said.

Columbus Byers, junior basketball president at the park, said Gupton had been suspended.

Jennifer McGilvray, a spokeswoman for Indy Parks and Recreation, would not confirm Gupton’s suspension but said his role in the meeting was under review. The department will be looking at whether Gupton knew beforehand of the staged fight. Byers called Gupton “a good director.”

The Rev. Malachi Walker, who runs a summer camp at his organization, Young Men Inc., on the Northside, said he was flabbergasted when he heard about the incident.

The first priority in demonstrations, he said, should be safety.

“I want to make sure I’m not putting any of my kids in danger,” he said. “I sure don’t want to put a police officer at risk.”

He said he could understand that Harrington was trying to make a point — and perhaps took it a step too far — and was “heartbroken” when he heard it went wrong.

“It sounds like there was a lack of communication, and safety needed a little more attention,” he said.

Tensions between police and the black community have been high since 15-year-old Brandon Johnson alleged excessive force was used against him during an arrest in May. Ciesielski has recommended firing one officer in that incident, but many black leaders think more should be punished.

That was followed by a fiery visit to the city by the Rev. Al Sharpton and a minister-led march on the City-County Building.

Ciesielski said his patrol officers see the discord on their beats.

“They tell us they are being verbally challenged, disrespected more than usual in order to try to get a reaction out of them,” Ciesielski said. “We are getting calls that turn out to be false of officers beating them up. We send a supervisor out and it turns out not to be anything. But we check them all out.”

Ciesielski said he would talk to the Marion County prosecutor’s office to determine whether charges were appropriate in the Municipal Gardens case.

The chief said Grimes, a 17-year veteran who makes hundreds of public appearances a year, was embarrassed to have been lured into the piece of theater.

“Matt loves what he does,” Ciesielski said. “It is unfair to put an officer in that position. If you want to have any open dialogue, then let’s talk and not play these silly games.”

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 5 years ago


    Call me stupid if you will, but I don't think they should go to prison. I think they should have suspended sentences that go real if they fail to pay, in full, for all medical expenses, lost wages, etc., for this officer, in perpetuity, on any occasion on which he just doesn't feel like going to work that day. In order to be able to afford that, they will probably need to keep good-paying jobs.

  • Funny


    almost 5 years ago


    Matt is my district Sarge. Good man.

  • Policelinkbadge_max160_max50_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    Arrests are in order. Get well soon, Sarge.

  • Flags_and_stars_max50


    almost 5 years ago



  • Iphone_002_max50


    almost 5 years ago



  • Bmg_logo_100x100_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    The world is full of them....

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    almost 5 years ago


    People playing with other people's emotions during a stressful time in the community ...... Not too smart.

  • Police_link_badge_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    Do this in my town and go to jail.............

  • Ralphie_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    get better fast sgt. if that happen in nyc our chief would have everyone involved heads on a platter, lets hope their chief does the same

  • N1023300020_30025442_7610_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    praying the officer has a speedy recovery

  • White_shirt_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    Charge those responsible and file civil action for your injuries.

  • Badge__hat_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    Charge everyone involved and prosecute them vigorously. There is no justification whatsoever for what they did. The officer should also sue them civilly for damages.

  • 1979_max50


    almost 5 years ago


    In other words they were setting this Officer up to see if they could get him to do something that they could complain about. Definitely charge everyone involved. Conspiracy sounds like a nice charge.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 5 years ago

    YES, file charges. Sounds like this was a type of set up to see if the officer could be caught on tape doing something wrong.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 5 years ago


    Thoughts and prayers for the officer and a speedy recovery, as well as the dept. The two idiots should be filed on and / or sued civilally for lost wages, medical, etc.

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