Indianapolis, IN – An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officer has been suspended pending termination after he was charged for an altercation with a Shortridge High School student (video below).
The confrontation occurred on Aug. 29 after officers responded to the school for a report of a “large fight,” according to The Grio.
One of the mothers involved in the confrontation and a bystander across the street filmed cell phone video of the incident.
The videos showed people screaming at police officers standing at the top of the steps outside Shortridge High School.
In the video, a woman screamed at the officers who slowly approached her and some teenage boys in what looked like an effort to clear the area.
A boy in a red shirt stopped on the stairs and squared up to an officer, telling him he’d “better chill out bro.”
Then all of a sudden the officer punched the boy in the face with a closed fist, the video showed.
Another adult woman helped the boy to his feet and started screaming at the officer.
A female officer entered the frame and began shooing the students and their parents down the steps as the video ended.
Video of the confrontation was posted to social media and quickly went viral.
IMPD Police Chief Bryan Roach quickly condemned the officer’s actions and announced that IMPD Officer Robert Lawson had been suspended without pay, according to The Grio.
“The incident has been turned over to investigators, who understand this case is a priority and have been advised to be as timely as possible,” Chief Roach said in a written statement. “The facts brought forward through the ongoing investigations in both the criminal and administrative processes will then be used to determine any final decisions.”
On Monday, Marion County Prosecutor’s Office announced that Officer Lawson had been charged with battery for allegedly striking the student “without a legitimate concern for self-defense,” WRTV reported.
Officer Lawson was also charged with obstruction of justice, perjury, false informing, and official misconduct in connection with "alleged false statements" that he made in the initial police report.
"Officer Lawson is accused of making false statements under oath or affirmation in a probable cause affidavit submitted in support of arrest of the 17-year-old,” according to the press release issued by the prosecutor's office. “The juvenile was not taken into custody, and no delinquency action has been filed against him in this matter."
"In the official documents allegedly prepared and signed by Officer Lawson on August 29, it states that he threw an open hand palm strike in fear that the 17-year-old was about to strike the him,” the prosecutor’s office said. “Officer Lawson allegedly reports that the palm strike was successful, and officers were able to cuff the 17-year-old without any further force. These statements are believed to be false and contrary to video evidence which appears to show Officer Lawson striking the juvenile with a closed fist and continuing to use force including a knee strike to the juvenile’s abdomen or chest area."
Prosecutors also said that Officer Lawson had claimed another officer there had said she saw the teen swing at him a “split second” before he used an open palm strike on the boy, but that officer disputed his assertion and said she hadn’t seen the boy doing anything, WRTV reported.
“After the filing of formal criminal charges by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Officer Robert Lawson has been placed on suspension without pay, with a recommendation of termination to the civilian oversight Merit Board,” Chief Roach said in a statement after the prosecutor’s office announced the charges.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below: