Jury Gets Indiana Police Brawl Case
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ A jury today resumed deliberating the case of four policemen accused of inciting a drunken brawl complete with racist and sexist slurs and a drawn gun after a night of drinking beer at a minor-league baseball game. The case led to the ouster of the city’s police chief.
Jurors returned to Marion Superior Court this morning to continue the discussions they broke off after about seven hours Friday.
In closing arguments, a prosecutor warned jurors that they could have been the civilians unlucky enough to cross paths with the officers.
``If you allow the police to behave like criminals, then none of us are safe,″ Mark Stoner, a deputy Marion County prosecutor, told the panel on Friday.
``You could have been out on the streets as this man was,″ Stoner said, pointing to star witness Jeffrey Gordon, who testified of being battered and having a loaded gun pointed at his head after encountering a group of men who smelled of alcohol.
The policemen, including one who has since been fired and another under suspension, face battery, disorderly conduct and other counts stemming from the Aug. 27, 1996, fight outside the city’s Circle Centre mall.
The officers, all white, are accused of harassing women and beating up Gordon, who is black.
Prosecutors say the four and 13 other officers who were being rewarded for outstanding work consumed 6 1/2 cases of beer in the city’s luxury suite at a minor-league baseball game, then made racist and sexist comments to passers-by as they made their way back to police headquarters.
Controversy over the case led to the resignation of Police Chief Donald Christ, and some political observers believe it helped doom Mayor Stephen Goldsmith’s gubernatorial bid a year ago.
Defense attorney James Voyles said Gordon and another man, Richard Craig, should be on trial for fighting with the officers.
``It’s backwards, ladies and gentlemen. It’s just backwards. It should be the other way,″ Voyles said.