COA: Indictment against Lake Co. sheriff can proceed

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The Court of Appeals of Indiana ruled an indictment against a northwest Indiana sheriff for felony resisting law enforcement and misdemeanor reckless driving can proceed.

The court in a 3-0 ruling Thursday found no reason to throw out the January 2022 indictment of Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr., The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.

The charges stem from a Sept. 18, 2021, incident in which Crown Point police said officers saw an SUV traveling “at what appeared to be at a speed well above the 45 mph posted limit.”

The felony resisting law enforcement indictment alleges Martinez fled from the officers.

Crown Point police said the SUV continued into adjacent Merrillville, but as the officers approached, Martinez activated emergency police lights, indicating it was an unmarked police car and prompting the officers to end the pursuit.

The misdemeanor reckless driving count alleges Martinez operated the SUV “by driving at such an unreasonably high rate of speed as to endanger the safety or property of others.”

Court records state Martinez was indicted following testimony from Indiana State Police Commander Kevin Smith, who was requested to investigate by Lake County commissioners.

Martinez argued the indictment should be dismissed because his due process right to a neutral and detached atmosphere in the grand jury proceedings was prejudiced by Smith giving improper legal advice disguised as testimony.

Martinez has said the charges were politically motivated.

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