An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer, Robert Lawson, is facing 5 charges after prosecutors revealed he made false statements when he punched a 17-year-old black student unprovoked.
According to the IndyStar, the incident occurred at the Shortridge High School in August when officers responded to a call of a “large fight” between students. Once there, they were asked by school staff to help attend to a parent but their confrontation escalated.
In a viral video that was shared on social media, a black woman can be seen exchanging words with the officers with Lawson asking her if she wants to go to jail.
“You want to go to jail? Let’s go,” he asks before a teenager steps in.
Without any provocation whatsoever, Lawson viciously punches the boy before striking his abdomen with his knee. The teenager then falls to the ground.
In the aftermath of the incident, a police report stated the student rather “attempted to assault” the officer, IndyStar further reports. Video footage, however, proved otherwise and Lawson was subsequently placed on leave on August 30 pending investigations.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police released a statement addressing the incident the same day.
“Yesterday, IMPD officers were called to assist IPS Police inside Shortridge High School on a large fight. When officers arrived, they learned that there was a juvenile male on scene who IPS police had in custody. IMPD officers were flagged down by staff to assist with a parent during the lockdown,” the statement read.
“During the course of the investigation, force was used by an IMPD officer. An IMPD supervisor arrived to conduct a preliminary investigation, per policy. In addition, the IMPD Internal Affairs Unit has been directed to conduct an internal investigation of the incident. The involved officer has been placed on administrative leave. We encourage anyone with any additional information or video to come forward, as it will assist with the internal investigation.”
After thorough investigations, Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry revealed Lawson made false official statements about the incident.
He has currently been slapped with 5 misdemeanor and felony charges, including battery, false informing, perjury, obstruction of justice and official misconduct, IndyStar reports.
In a probable-cause affidavit by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detective John Howard, details of how Lawson’s official statement did not corroborate with the footage and investigations were revealed.
According to Lawson, he hit the teenager with an “open hand palm strike” after fearing he was going to attack him. Investigations, however, revealed he hit the teenager with a fist.
Again, in his falsified statement, Lawson claimed the boy’s “face was clinched in anger” with both hands fisted, adding that he “moved his right shoulder back and bladed his body.”
Investigations, however, revealed that though the teenager’s face can’t be seen in the footage, both of his hands weren’t fisted before the attack, IndyStar further reports.
Lawson also did not report hitting the student with his knee. He claimed the student was restrained and handcuffed after he hit him with his palm. Investigations, however, proved otherwise.
In the statement, Lawson further asserted that Sgt. Marzetta Jenkins, an officer at the Indianapolis Public Schools Police Department, who was around when the incident occurred, saw the teenager swing his fist first at Lawson.
Investigations, however, revealed the student did not do so. Jenkins also denied she told Lawson she saw the student swing at him, according to IndyStar.
Announcing the charges, Curry, however, appeared to call out the lady for instigating the incident.
“This in no way excuses what the officer is accused of doing, obviously,” Curry said, according to WTHR. “But our hope would be that adults could act like adults. She screamed. She yelled. She dropped f-bombs. She dropped MF-ers. We simply would hope that adults could act like adults. What happened here, this whole circumstance would have been avoided.”
The teenager’s parents have filed a lawsuit.