Sunday, November 7, 2010

Indy Fairly Calm After Piland Decision

In the wake of the Jerry Piland exoneration by the IMPD Civilian Merit Commission in the alleged beating of Brandon Johnson, some cities might have erupted in violence. Again, Indianapolis did not.

Indianapolis has a long history of reacting in this manner. Most famously, Indianapolis was one of the few major cities to avoid riots following the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Many credit Robert F. Kennedy's famous speech here in the city that evening for keeping things peaceful.

There are some hard conversations left down the road in this case, and I'm sure that we have not heard the last of it. I personally believe that something inappropriate happened that night when Brandon Johnson sustained those injuries. I simply believe that whoever acted inappropriately should be held accountable. If IMPD's investigation was incomplete or wrong and Piland was not responsible, then the decision on his exoneration was justified. To me, I'll be honest, it was surprising. Then again, I wasn't there.

Police have a tough job, and I am a big supporter of the men and women in blue and brown. I was told to always respect law enforcement, and I always have. There was even one time that a Marion County Sheriff's Deputy was just flat out rude to me at an accident scene of a wreck I was involved in but I did not cause. I shut up and followed his directions even though I was angry to just be sitting at a stoplight and to be pulled into someone else's wreck. I let that Deputy do his job even though I felt he was being overly aggressive and unprofessional. I rationalized not filing a complaint because I didn't know what run he was on before he came to the accident scene.

My great grandfather (pictured in 1938 when he was a town marshall, I think), who died 11 years before I was born, was a member of the Indianapolis Police Department back in the early 20th Century. I have one of his badges and the sergeant emblem that went on his hat. Law enforcement officials, I respect and honor your service to this community.

I think many others in Indianapolis do the same. They understand that the actions of a couple of handfuls of people in your ranks do not, in general, represent the entirety of your force. That's why I think many are disgusted and appalled by what happened to Brandon Johnson (and Eric Wells and others), but they did not take those actions to the streets of Indianapolis.

I say, let's keep it that way.


kris said...

i think indy was "fairly calm" after this decision, but not so much because we are pacifists or any similarly noble reason. i think we have come to expect a culture of corruption from our elected officials and police officers.

events in the last year have shown there is a culture of corruption, whether it's botched investigations into the officer who killed the motorcyclist, this story of the kid who was beat up, or the recent dog attacks.

i think this is a systemic problem, and as long as they are given a pass, it will continue, and we will continue be passive about it.

Indy Student said...

I think it speaks volumes of the type of men Mayor Ballard, "Doctor" Frank Straub, and Chief Ciesielski that they release statements after the decision was made that they think the board reached the wrong conclusion, even though only one of the three men was even present at the hearing. I was initially supportive of the decision of firing Piland, but after all the other BS these 3 men have pulled since then, I can't trust them. I MIGHT be able to trust the Chief and the Mayor, but not Straub.

I think I know why the Johnson incident hasn't stirred up more among Indianapolis residents. Most aren't that concerned about it. Sure, there are members of the Concerned Clergy that are using it to score points and/or promotion, but that's it.

The cold weather also tends to cool tempers as well.

Throughout Friday and the weekend, WIBC has been airing clips that their afternoon drive-home host Ed Wench did with members of the board and Russ McQuaid, one of the media who was present for most of the hearing. I think if you get a chance to listen to these clips, or read/view the Fox 59 piece McQuaid did, you'll see how the board reached it's decision. And for all his faults, Prosecutor Brizzi talked about it in a very detailed way on his Crimebeat show. If you get the chance, listen and read up on it.

Erin said...

I am incredibly troubled by the Merit Board's conclusion that another, never disciplined!, officer was responsible for Brandon's injuries. I want to know exactly how and why this officer was exonerated and not recommended for discipline by Straub and Chief Ciesielski to the Merit Board. It sounds like they would have recommended HIS firing if they could have. The fact that the FOP is publicly saying that they think the other officer should have been the one disciplined speaks volumes to me. They aren't saying nothing happened, it wasn't inappropriate use of force. That they are naming an officer and the Merit Board agrees with them after examining the facts indicates we need to expand the reach of the Merit Board over that of the Mayor and his "guys", not lessen it.

I have zero interest in punishing one cop for the actions of another. That isn't justice for anybody and leaves a bad cop on the force which is completely unacceptable.

Honestly, I am shocked that the Merit Board would reach a totally different conclusion about which cop was responsible than the original investigation and cannot believe people are not demanding that this insane discrepancy be addressed asap. It's not ok at all to demand the Merit Board just discipline whichever officer the Mayor, Straub and Ciesielski put in front of them or else somehow the Board is at fault and made a wrong decision. This is just crazy to me.