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Indianapolis Police Discipline 7 in Drunken Brawl

November 8, 1996

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Punishments were laid down Thursday for seven police officers accused of taking part in a drunken melee involving racial slurs, lewd remarks to women and attacks on two men who tried to intervene.

Four of the officers have been indicted on charges stemming from the Aug. 27 brawl, and an investigation showed three others violated department rules, acting Chief Robert Allen said Thursday.

Two officers will be fired, two suspended without pay, and three demoted, Allen said. They have 30 days to appeal to the department’s civilian merit board, which must approve the punishment.

The officers _ all white members of an elite police unit and all but one off-duty _ emerged from a downtown bar, taunted the women and then beat up and arrested a black man who confronted them, as well as a white man, police said.

Among the witnesses was a white minister who said one officer ``was blowing Budweiser in my face.″

As many as 50 people witnessed the attack, which strained already poor relations between police and Indianapolis’ black community and led to the resignation of Police Chief Donald Christ.

The black man who intervened, Jeff Gordon, was charged with battery and disorderly conduct because he kept fighting even after uniformed police told him he could leave, prosecutors said.

In all, 17 officers were reassigned, although Allen said only 15 were actually at the scene. The rest can go back to work immediately.

Officers Paul Tutsie and Jason Hansman were immediately suspended without pay after they were indicted on felony charges on Oct. 18. Allen said they will be terminated pending appeals to the board.

Tutsie was charged with battery, perjury, as well as misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief and disorderly conduct. Hansman was charged with pointing a firearm, and misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and battery.

Officers Edward Brickley Jr. and Gregory Gehring had been indicted on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and battery charges. Brickley also was charged with public intoxication. Gehring was suspended for 15 days and Brickley for 12.

Two officers, Lt. Stephen Robertson and Lt. Stephen Watts, were demoted to sergeant, and Sgt. Stephen Vogt was demoted to patrolman.

Vogt and Robertson, who were supervisors, failed to control the other officers, Allen said. Watts, who was called to the scene, failed to obtain statements from the officers and breathalyzer tests.

The Fraternal Order of Police has maintained that the incident was blown out of proportion.

Gordon said he was disappointed with the punishment. ``With the exception of Tutsie and Hansman, the rest of them are still eventually going to be right back out there on the streets, in uniform, carrying badges and weapons,″ he said.

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