Bodycam video of Warsaw Police Chief incident released
WARSAW, Ind. -- Video showing the aftermath of the Warsaw Police Chief's confrontation with an elderly couple on the evening of January 25th, has been released to ABC57 News.
ABC57 submitted a Freedom of Information Act request after anonymous allegations of an abuse of authority.
According to a police report written by Chief Scott Whitaker, he was off duty when he was nearly run off the road by what he perceived to be an intoxicated driver. He followed the vehicle to a home while calling for back-up. While parked outside of the home, he saw an individual approach the car and attempt to get inside. Whitaker, who did not want an intoxicated driver to get back on the road, confronted the person by grabbing him from behind. That person's legs then gave out and he went to his knees on the ground, according to the report. The person ended up being a 74-year-old man who was not intoxicated. And, it turns out, that man was not even the driver. It turns out his wife was driving the vehicle. She has a hard time seeing at night, but had car trouble and was driving later than normal. She was also not intoxicated.
In the bodycam video from a responding officer, you can hear the 74-year-old man telling the officer that he was shoved to the ground.
Off camera, you can hear a man speaking loudly to the woman who was driving. The statement being made is somewhat difficult to hear, but sounds like “If you want to make excuses and cover for his a**, that’s what was going to happen and you know it.”
In his official report, Chief Whitaker says he questioned the woman why she was trying to cover for her husband, before learning she was in fact the driver.
After reports of the incident surfaced, Mayor Joe Thallemer requested the Indiana State Police review the incident. After a review, ISP decided not to go forward with an investigation. An ISP spokesperson told ABC57 that they were looking to determine if a crime had been committed and found no evidence of one. However, the spokesperson went on to say that an internal investigation about department policies would be up to the discretion of the Warsaw Police Department or city of Warsaw.
Warsaw's city attorney explained he did not believe an internal review was underway.
ABC57 also requested a copy of the departments duty manual. We are still reviewing it, but there is a section that describes "Conduct Unbecoming a Police Officer." That section says officers "shall be courteous and efficient in their dealings with the public." It also says officers shall "avoid harsh, violent, profane, or insulent language and shall remain calm regardless of provocation."
ABC57 has also requested bodycam footage from a Winona Lake Police officer who responded to the scene and 911 and dispatch calls made by the chief during the pursuit.