Two firefighters accused of beating third firefighter who created an obscene video
MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. -- Three firefighters have been charged in connection with a party held for a rookie firefighter in November 2020. Two firefighters are accused of beating another firefighter, who is facing charges for obscene performance, according to the probable cause affidavit.
At 12:22 p.m. on November 6, a Michigan City Police officer was called to a home on Earl Road for reports of an unconscious person.
When the officer arrived, he discovered Michigan City Fire Captain Mellen unconscious, reports said.
Witnesses at the party told police and EMS that Mellen was drinking when he fell off his chair and hit his head. Mellen was transported to the hospital.
At 1 p.m., police were dispatched to Franklin Street for reports of a man with a bloody hand.
When the officer arrived at 1:11 p.m., he located Austin Swistek visibly impaired, trying to get into his vehicle, reports said. Swistek’s hand was bloody, reports said.
The officer walked Swistek back to the party on Earl Street, which was hosted by firefighter Darren “Scott” Kaletha, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Outside the Earl Street home, the officer spoke with firefighter Brad Kreighbaum and said they can’t let Swistek drive because he was intoxicated, reports said.
At 2:12 p.m., an officer was dispatched to the hospital for a battery report. The victim was Austin Swistek, reports said.
Swistek told police he had been beaten by Kaletha and Kreighbaum at the Earl Street home, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Swistek had a cut on his hand, a cut on his eyebrow, multiple fractures to his face and his nose was broken, reports said. He also had an abnormal level of alcohol in his system, according to the probable cause affidavit.
During an interview, Swistek told investigators that about 15-20 minutes after the ambulance left with the captain, Kaletha hit him while they were near the kitchen door, reports said.
Swistek said he was choked and punched during this assault, according to the probable cause affidavit.
He tried to leave the house through the back yard when the second assault happened, reports said. Kaletha and Kreighbaum both beat him up in the back yard, reports said.
When officers spoke with Kaletha, he told them about a video Swistek had made during the party.
Kaletha said he had been drinking cocktails earlier in the day, so he went upstairs to sleep it off. While lying on the bed on his stomach, Swistek came in, disrobed, got on top of him and “mounted” him, according to the probable cause affidavit. Another firefighter recorded the incident, reports said.
Officers asked Kaletha if the video was the reason he hit Swistek, Kaletha said he didn’t know about the video until the next day, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Kaletha met with an ISP sergeant for a polygraph interview. During the initial interview before the polygraph, Kaletha admitted to choking Swistek, but said his actions were self-defense because Swistek was out of control, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Kaletha admitted to seeing Kreighbaum punch Swistek while on top of Swistek, reports said. Kaletha said Kreighbaum was trying to get Swistek under control, reports said.
The polygraph examiner asked Kaletha if he had struck Swistek out of anger and frustration and Kaletha admitted he had, “due to [Swistek’s] boorish behavior, “ the polygraph examiner’s report said.
Kaletha’s polygraph was never conducted due to his statements to the examiner.
The ISP’s report stated while several witnesses reported Swistek had “destroyed the house”, the only destruction reported was a broken beer bottle, blood spatter from the cut on his hand, throwing or knocking over Gatorade bottles and knocking a dog collar onto the floor, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Kreighbaum was charged with battery resulting in serious injury.
Kaletha was charged with battery resulting in serious injury and strangulation.
Swistek was charged with obscene performance and battery.