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Four Indianapolis Police Officers, One Civilian Charged in Melee

October 18, 1996

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Four policemen were indicted Friday on charges of taking part in a drunken, off-duty melee that heightened racial tensions in Indianapolis and led to the police chief’s resignation. A black man who was beaten in the brawl was also charged.

Witnesses said the men _ all of them white officers belonging to an elite police unit _ emerged from a bar smelling of alcohol Aug. 27, used racial slurs, made lewd remarks to women, and beat up and arrested a black man as well as a white man who tried to intervene.

The charges against the officers include battery and disorderly conduct. The two who were charged with felonies were immediately suspended without pay, and Acting Police Chief Robert Allen said he will press for their firing.

As many as 50 people witnessed the attack, which strained already poor relations between police and Indianapolis’ black community.

On Sept. 12, Police Chief Donald Christ stepped down in ``the best interest of the department as well as the city,″ and 17 officers implicated in the case were reassigned to desk jobs as pressure from the black community mounted.

Christ had attended a minor-league baseball game with the group but left before the officers went to the bar and has not been blamed in the attacks that followed.

Jeff Gordon, the black man who scuffled with the officers, was charged with battery and disorderly conduct. Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman said Gordon was indicted because he continued fighting even after uniformed police told him he could leave.

``I’m not as surprised that all 17 of the officers were not held accountable,″ Gordon said. ``But I’m very surprised that they see me as being a criminal in this case.″

He called the investigation ``a farce from the very beginning.″

``It was five weeks before they showed us any pictures of what these guys looked like,″ Gordon said. ``Five weeks is a long time to remember.″

Officer Paul Tutsie was charged with battery, perjury, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. Officer Jason Hansman was charged with pointing a firearm, disorderly conduct and battery. Some of the charges are felonies.

Officer Edward Brickley Jr. was charged with disorderly conduct, battery and public intoxication and Gregory Gehring with disorderly conduct and battery.

The prosecutor said he will ask the court to appoint a special prosecutor in the case of another policeman targeted in the investigation, because he is married to a deputy prosecutor.

The Fraternal Order of Police has criticized media coverage of the incident. Lt. Michael Bosley, president of the local FOP chapter, has disputed characterizations of the incident as a ``brawl.″

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