INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The internal affairs unit of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the actions of officers following an arrest last week that has drawn criticism from residents in an east side neighborhood.
The criticism is that several residents allege the officers used excessive force by kicking and repeatedly deploying their stun guns as 29-year-old Marcus Jackson was on the ground.
But in court records the officers explained their actions, claiming they feared they were in “great danger” because Jackson was allegedly high, unresponsive, growling and becoming aggressive – at one point – lunging at officers.
A portion of Jackson’s May 8 arrest was captured on cell phone video and shows two officers kicking Jackson as he lay near the sidewalk at 25th and Baltimore streets.
The video, posted to social media sites, was obtained by WISH-TV Wednesday night.The short video abruptly starts and stops and may contain edits of Jackson’s arrest.
WISH-TV notified IMPD’s professional standards unit after obtaining the video. An investigator from IMPD viewed the video but did not comment, saying it would be turned over to internal affairs.
On Thursday, the station again reached out to authorities for comment, but also spoke with several witnesses who claimed to have seen the arrest unfold. Their statements were coupled by additional cell phone videos that captured Jackson’s arrest and the aftermath.
“You know how they punt a football, that’s how they kicked him,” said Tamika Banks, a nearby resident who claims to have witnessed the arrest.
Banks can be heard on one of the cell phone videos questioning the actions of the officers.
“Regardless of what he was going off of, they had no business kicking him the way that they did. They was beating the mess out of that man,” Banks told I-Team 8 Thursday.
Another neighbor, Alice Maxie, captured portions of the incident on her cell phone. In the video obtained by I-Team 8, an officer can be heard talking to Jackson.
“Put your arms behind your back now,” the officer states.
Maxie then replies: “You don’t have to kick him (expletive)!”
A stun gun can then be heard on the video being administered.
In court records, the officers admitted to kicking and using their stun guns “multiple times” but they stated Jackson had ignored their commands to stay on the ground and was attempting to stand up several times. At one point, Jackson “got his feet underneath himself and attempted to charge” at Officer Justin Beaton.
Beaton had initially been called to the scene on a report of a person down. When he arrived, he found Jackson unresponsive and lying in the middle of Baltimore Street, court records and neighbors stated. Suddenly, Jackson opened his eyes, had a blank stare, and then “became aggressive and started growling like a dog” at Beaton, the court records state.
At one point, the court records state Justin Beaton was concerned Jackson was high on the drug “wet” or PCP, and “immediately became concerned for his safety.” It goes on to state that Jackson made several attempts to stand, and that Beaton used “foot strikes to Jackson’s butt and upper arm areas to get Jackson to lie on the ground.”
The court records state the officers feared they were in “great danger” from Jackson, a 5-foot-7, 230-pound suspect who officers believed was high on “wet” a drug that involves smoking formaldehyde. Jackson, who would later be treated by paramedics before being taken to Eskenazi Health’s detention center, admitted to medics that he had smoked “wet,” court records state.
One neighbor, who asked that he not be identified, told I-Team 8 that he thinks the officers’ actions were justified.
“He kept trying to get up and the officer told him ‘stay down.’ When the officer tells you do something, that’s what you are supposed to do,” the man stated.
The man later admitted he did not stick around to see the officers kick Jackson – as other neighbors did – but still felt the officers’ actions were warranted.
“If I was acting that way he was acting, then I would expect to get the fair treatment that they gave him,” said the man, who described Jackson’s behavior as “erratic.”
Maxie, along with another witness Deborah Nelson, contend the incident could have been handled better.
“I think that policeman was out of line,” Nelson said.
“The only thing I can say is that police handled that wrong,” Maxie said.
IMPD provided WISH-TV with a statement that reads: “The IMPD is aware of the video and the Internal Affairs Unit is investigating the incident.”
Jackson could not be reached for comment. He was charged with possession of marijuana, public intoxication and resisting law enforcement.