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August 05, 2013
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Video: Hero officer investigated for tackling man

The man was allegedly asking for help after a friend's hotel had been robbed, when a conversation with the officer went south

By Karen Hensel
WISHTV.com

INDIANAPOLIS — An I-Team 8 investigation has prompted IMPD to launch an immediate internal investigation, after seeing video of an arrest a police officer made in the lobby of the JW Marriott in Indianapolis.

An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer was called to a dispute in the lobby of the JW Marriott in September. The hotel's video cameras recorded the dispute involving a business owner from Maryland who was in town for a convention. He and his employee were seen speaking to hotel security in the video.

Then police arrive. Within 16 seconds, the officer is seen throwing the 60-year-old business owner to the ground.

On Sept. 6, 2012, Brian Hudkins, who owns a home theater installation company in Maryland, was in town attending the CEDIA trade show, an event he helped create. He and his employees checked in to the JW Marriott that day and went out to dinner downtown.

When they came back, Hudkins' employee went to his room on the 31st floor, but he couldn't get in his room and heard people inside. Concerned he was walking in on a theft, he called Hudkins and the two went to hotel management.

"I think it's fair to say they were upset," Hudkins' attorney, Scott Barnhart said. "I don't know the volume of the conversation but I know they certainly were expressing their displeasure with what was happening."

Hudkins said he even urged the hotel to call police.

"When the officer showed up, he directed Mr. Hudkins to quiet down. He told him that he would once the issue was resolved," Barnhart said. "He was trying to resolve the issue and hoped the police would help him."

What happened next is all captured on hotel cameras. I-Team 8 obtained the video that was entered as evidence in this case. There is no audio on the hotel's video.

The police report and Hudkins' allegations describe what happened next.

After being thrown to the ground and handcuffed in the lobby, Hudkins was brought in handcuffs out of the hotel to be taken to jail. As he's taken to the squad car, video shows Officer Wilson throws him to the ground again.

"There appears to be no reason for that," says Barnhart. "He was cooperating. He was handcuffed at the time."

Video vs. Police Report
I-Team 8 compared the police report filed that night to the video. Officer T. Michael Wilson writes that he gave Hudkins a warning to lower his voice. He wrote that Hudkins "replied that he did not have to, while sticking his finger in my face." But the video clearly shows Hudkins' hands are moved behind his back.

Officer Wilson writes he "attempted to push Mr. Hudkins backwards and away from the situation" but Hudkins was able to "forcibly push backwards." The video shows Hudkins thrown to the ground.

IMPD Internal Affairs
I-Team 8 took the video to Police Chief Rick Hite. He says, "Fifteen seconds after we were told my first inkling is to call my commander in charge of internal investigation and make him aware we have a complaint." We showed the video to the Chief and his top two investigators from internal affairs.

I-Team 8 asked Hite about the apparent discrepancy between the video and the police report.

"I'm not denying what we saw or what we seen but we have a policy and process in which we adjudicate each and every investigation," Hite said.

When asked if it looked like excessive force was used, Hite said, "It looks like force was used."

Hite said his department would have to go further than simply looking at the video.

"We'll have to get to the bottom of why it was used, under what condition it was used, was there a verbal exchange," Hite said. "I want to hear all of that. But I certainly can't be judged by or ask us to be judged by what we merely see."

Hite told I-Team 8 he would pursue an "immediate review" after seeing the video.

"Absent of any additional information at this point, you have forced me to now request every piece of paper, every document related to this case for immediate review by internal affairs," he said.

Lawsuit Filed
Hudkins said the cuts he got from being thrown to the ground that night took two months to heal on top of a shoulder surgery he had had. Hudkins also alleges he was denied medication to treat epilepsy and missed 40 percent of the convention he was visiting Indianapolis to attend. He said his business and reputation have been hurt.

The incident prompted Hudkins to sue IMPD and the city, alleging battery and defamation among other charges.

The suit asks for $700,000 in damages.

Hudkins entered into a diversion program where he agreed to stay away from the JW Marriott, not be arrested again and make a $500 donation to IMPD's Clothe a Child program.  The charges will eventually be expunged from his record.

When I-Team 8 first approached Hudkins' attorney about the arrest, he declined to allow his client to comment because of the pending lawsuit. Officer Michael Wilson, who was named Community Police Support Officer of the Year in May, also cannot comment because of the lawsuit.

Reprinted with permission from WISHTV.com






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