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Judge rejects plea for officer accused of assaulting an inmate

A former South Bend Police officer accused of assaulting an inmate in 2010 was ready to plead guilty on Monday. But the judge hearing his case got frustrated and decided to reject the guilty plea and vacate the hearing. 

Theo Robert decided to read a statement that explained how his assault on the inmate was self defense. 

The magistrate judge responded reminding Robert that this was a plea hearing and not a trial. 

Doug Grimes, Robert's attorney, said their hesitation with the plea was not intentional. 

Grimes said, “The judge has a right to do whatever he chooses and under his standard, he hadn’t heard enough, or he hadn’t heard what he wanted to hear.” 

Robert argued that he got into an altercation with the inmate before they arrived at the St. Joseph County Jail.

Robert feels the South Bend Police Department violated policy by allowing him to bring the inmate who assaulted him to jail.

According to court documents, Robert pushed the inmate against the wall, pushed his arm up against the suspect's throat, and then punched him in the face.

Apparently the inmate suffered from a laceration to his forehead.  

In the court room, Robert admitted he used excessive force but because he kept defending himself, the judge said he didn’t feel comfortable accepting his guilty plea.

Robert's attorney said they do not know if they will pleading guilty or not guilty next time. 

Grimes said, “First of all I don’t accept the premise that we were delaying anything. We showed up. We were prepared. We were in the midst of it and the court cut it off, so we didn’t delay anything.”

The judge said today's hearing was the most frustrating plea hearing in his 16 years as judge.

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