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Grand jury indicts Muncie officers accused of covering up excessive force

Grand jury indicts Muncie officers accused of covering up excessive force
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A federal grand jury in Indiana on Wednesday issued a sweeping indictment for four Muncie police officers accused of using excessive force during arrests and subsequently attempting to cover up their actions. 

The Justice Department announced that the officers have been charged with 17 counts, superseding a March 2020 indictment against three officers related to the excessive force case. 

The indictment lists charges against officers Joseph Chase Winkle, Jeremy Gibson and Corey Posey and Sgt. Joseph Krejsa over their alleged roles in use-of-force incidents in Muncie, located about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis. 

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The Justice Department said in its Wednesday press release that Winkle has been charged “with five counts of depriving five different arrestees of their rights to be free from excessive force, and six counts writing false reports about his uses of force against those arrestees, as well as two other arrestees.” 

The indictment said that Winkle allegedly kicked, punched and used a stun gun on individuals being arrested “without justification,” which “resulted in bodily injury to the arrestees.” 

Gibson, meanwhile, has been charged with two counts of excessive force, as well as one count of writing a false report regarding one of the arrests, and Krejsa has been charged with two counts of writing false reports related to two of Winkle’s excessive force incidents. 

According to the Justice Department, Krejsa in one police report “minimized the level of force” Winkle used during an arrest, and in another report falsely wrote that another sergeant had allowed Winkle’s use of force, despite the fact that it was Krejsa who was responsible for reviewing the arrest. 

Posey is charged with one count of writing a false police report for allegedly mischaracterizing an arrestee's behavior and omitting information on Winkle’s use of force. 

Winkle, Gibson and Krejsa had previously been charged in the March 2020 indictment of civil rights and obstruction offenses, with the latest indictment adding the excessive force and false report charges. 

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The officers face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years for the excessive force charges, and a 20-year-prison limit for the false police report offenses, according to the Justice Department. 

The superseding indictment comes amid renewed conversations on police use of force, particularly against Black Americans, which have only grown since Sunday’s fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn. 

Protesters in Minnesota took to the streets for a third night Tuesday, with many calling for legal action to be taken against officer Kim Potter, who resigned after police identified her as the one who fatally shot Wright, claiming that she meant to deploy her stun gun after Wright had been pulled over in a traffic stop. 

On Wednesday, it was announced that Potter would be charged with second-degree manslaughter.

The country is also awaiting a verdict in the ongoing trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the May killing of George Floyd

The city where Wright was killed is about 10 miles from where Chauvin’s trial is taking place in Minneapolis, and Floyd’s and Wright’s families met for a press conference Tuesday held by attorney Ben Crump, who is representing both families.