Two Indianapolis police officers have been charged with felony assault for the violent arrests of two women at a late May protest, officials announced Wednesday.
The officers, Jonathan Horlock and Nathaniel Schauwecker, were indicted after they were filmed shoving one of the women to the ground and striking the other at least seven times with batons during police brutality protests in the city around 8:45 p.m. on May 31.
The two women, Ivoré Westfield and Rachel Harding, had met at the protest and Harding had agreed to give Westfield a ride home, the local CW affiliate reported. The pair were walking to Harding’s vehicle when the officers arrived to arrest them for violating the city’s 8 p.m. curfew instituted at the time, according to the station.
Video shows Horlock, Schauwecker and several other officers at a street corner placing multiple people under arrest. As an officer moved to cuff Westfield, she yanked her arms away and stood still.
One officer then shot pepper balls at Westfield as Horlock and Schauwecker then moved in with batons, striking Westfield repeatedly until she fell to the ground and covered her head.
Schauwecker is then seen pushing Harding to the ground after she asked, “Why her?!”
A grand jury made up of six randomly chosen residents took one day of deliberations before returning its decision to indict the officers Tuesday, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced Wednesday.
“The standard here when you’re evaluating officer conduct and whether or not excessive force was being used is a reasonableness standard,” Mears said at a news conference. “What would a reasonable officer do under the circumstances — what should they have done?
“And when we’re talking about issues of reasonableness that’s very much a standard that’s going to be defined by the community,” Mears continued. “And what better way to define that than by presenting it to a grand jury?”
Horlock faces multiple battery charges as well as perjury, official misconduct and obstruction of justice. The obstruction charge was brought after Horlock allegedly falsely claimed that Westfield had hit a police sergeant in the chest during her arrest, The New York Times reported.
Schauwecker also faces multiple battery charges and a charge of official misconduct.
The question here is whether the officers’ conduct was reasonable or not,” Mears said. “And so whether or not a police officer followed training or not is not a legal defense…You can’t say, ‘Well, hey, my training told me to do this’ if that conduct turns out to be unconstitutional or excessive.”
The women have filed a federal lawsuit against four officers involved in the incident, including Schauwecker and Horlock.
The two other officers named in the suit were not indicted.
Both Schauwecker and Horlock have been placed on administrative leave at the Indianapolis Police Department and are expected to appear in court Thursday, the CW-affilaite reported.