Indy, Henry Co. officers charged in separate cases with excessive force, obstruction of justice

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Two Indiana law enforcement officers are facing new federal charges after being indicted by a grand jury on excessive force and obstruction of justice claims.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Eric Huxley was indicted Tuesday on a charge of violating the civil rights of an arrestee by using excessive force in a September 2021 incident. Separately, former Henry County Reserve Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Guy was charged in a superseding indictment with one count of witness tampering.

Also charged in the superseding indictment was former New Castle Police Lt. Aaron Strong, who was charged in July with three civil rights violations. Tuesday’s superseding indictment did not add any charges against Strong, whose case is related to Guy’s.

Huxley, 44, is charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.

According to the indictment, on Sept. 24, 2021, Huxley, “without legal justification, struck J.V. in the head and face with a shod foot while J.V. was handcuffed. The offense resulted in bodily injury to J.V. and involved the use of a dangerous weapon (a shod foot).”

A report from The Associated Press identified J.V. as Jermaine Vaughn, a homeless man who encountered Huxley on Monument Circle.

AP reported that Huxley allegedly kicked Vaughn in the face, causing his mouth to bleed. Huxley claimed he accidentally kicked Vaughn when he meant to place his foot on his shoulder.

Following the incident, Huxley was suspended without pay and was recommended for termination, according to AP. As of Wednesday, Huxley remained suspended without pay while the termination recommendation remained pending, according to WRTV in Indianapolis.

Huxley is already facing state-court felony charges of official misconduct and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury related to the incident involving Vaughn. A pretrial hearing in that case, State of Indiana v. Eric M. Huxley, 49D23-2110-F6-031364, is scheduled for Oct. 26.

The federal case, United States of America v. Eric Huxley, 1:22-cr-00157, has been assigned to Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

Online court records did not list an attorney for Huxley in the federal case as of Wednesday morning. Indiana Lawyer has reached out to his attorney in the state case, John Kautzman of Indianapolis, for comment.

The superseding indictment filed separately against Guy, formerly of the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, and Strong, formerly of the New Castle Police, charges both Strong and Guy with witness tampering and Strong with three additional charges of deprivation of rights.

The indictment alleges that on Aug. 18, 2019, Strong “used an expandable baton to strike J.W. multiple times without legal justification. The offense resulted in bodily injury to J.W. and involved the use of a dangerous weapon.”

Then in September 2019, according to the indictment, Strong “knowingly made false statements” regarding the August incident to A.W., an Indiana State Police officer.

Likewise, Guy, 25, is also charged with making false statements to A.W. regarding Strong’s alleged use of excessive force in August 2019.

The other two counts against Strong relate to an incident on July 12, 2017. On that day, according to the indictment, Strong “used his foot to strike T.C. in and about the head without legal justification. The offense resulted in bodily injury to T.C.”

Further, on the same day, Strong allegedly “shot E.S. in the back with a ‘bean bag’ shotgun round at close range without legal justification. The offense resulted in bodily injury to E.S. and involved the use of a dangerous weapon.”

The witness tampering charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years each while the civil rights charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years each, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana. Each charge also carries a maximum $250,000 fine.

The federal case, United States of America v. Strong, et al., 1:22-cr-00083, is proceeding in Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s court.

Strong is represented by Carmel attorney Guy Relford. Court records did not list an attorney for Guy as of Wednesday morning.

Indiana Lawyer has reached out to Relford for comment.

In February 2020, Strong pleaded guilty in state court to a misdemeanor count of criminal recklessness for assaulting a man who had surrendered to police. The charge in that case, State of Indiana v. Aaron J. Strong, 33C02-2001-CM-000014, was filed Aug. 19, 2019.

According to an ISP news release regarding the state case, two New Castle officers noticed a suspicious man on the street around 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 19, 2019. When the officers got out of their car to speak to the man, he fled on foot.

When the man was caught, Strong “began striking the man with his expandable baton as the man lay on the ground,” according to ISP. 

Strong was sentenced to 180 days, all suspended to probation, in the state-court case.

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