2 Indianapolis officers charged with battery in protesters’ arrests

Crowd of protesters fill the streets of downtown Indianapolis on May 30. (Indianapolis Business Journal photo)

A grand jury indicted two Indianapolis police officers on battery and other charges after an investigation into allegations that they used excessive force while arresting demonstrators at a May protest over the death of George Floyd, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced Wednesday.

Johnathan Horlock, a five-year veteran with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, faces three counts of battery and one count each of official misconduct, perjury and obstruction. Nathanial Schauwecker, who has been with the department for eight years, faces four counts of battery and two counts of official misconduct.

“The question here is whether the officers’ conduct was reasonable or not,” Mears said at a news conference. “You can’t say, ‘Hey, my training told me to do this,’ if that conduct turns out to be unconstitutional, or excessive.”

Two women, Ivoré Westfield and Rachel Harding, both of Marion County, are named as victims. They filed a federal lawsuit in June after video was released of officers using batons and pepper balls to subdue the them during their May 31 arrests in downtown Indianapolis.

Video of the arrest, recorded by WISH-TV, shows Westfield, who is Black, being held from behind by a white male officer, escaping his grasp and then being surrounded by several other officers. There were audible pops and several clouds of spray near Westfield, which the lawsuit contends were caused by detonated pepper balls. Two officers struck her with batons until she fell to the ground, and she was then pinned face-down by a baton at the back of her neck.

Harding, who is white, could be seen and heard in the video shouting, “Why her? Why her?” Another officer then rushed Harding and shoved her to the ground, where officers subdued her.

Neither woman was charged with any crime.

Among other things, grand jurors were asked to consider the level of threat posed by the individuals being arrested, Mears said.

Police Chief Randal Taylor said in a statement Wednesday that Horlock and Schauwecker will remain on administrative duty while an internal investigation continues. Taylor said he intends to address the administrative side of the officers’ conduct following all criminal proceedings.

Two other officers who were involved, Sgt. David Kinsey and Officer Conrad Simpson, do not face charges at this time, Mears said.

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