Mimesis Law
21 October 2019

Lying Will Get You Fired Much Faster Than Excessive Force

November 15, 2016 (Fault Lines) – In Evansville, Indiana, on October 29th, three police officers responded to a burglary in progress call, and they located Mark Healy. During the process of arresting Healy, two of the officers used force on him, striking him repeatedly. They said that it was due to his resisting arrest before they could put handcuffs on him. The only problem is that the police body camera video showed a completely different story. In short, the officers lied.

(Extremely graphic language.)

You see, Healy didn’t resist arrest, the video shows him being compliant when the officers handcuff him. They even uncuffed him to remove his hoodie at one point, and if someone has resisted arrest, you never uncuff him until you get to the jail.

No, what happened is that Healy had a hypodermic needle in his pocket and the police officer who was searching Healy got stuck with the needle (at 1:10 in the video). Cops tend to get real bent out of shape over that, because the needle can transmit the hepatitis or HIV virus, not to speak of the drugs that it may or may not contain. An officer who has been stuck has to go through tests to determine if he was infected, and because it may take time for the infection to take hold and develop antibodies, the officer will have to be repeatedly tested, and he or she won’t know if they are liable to transmit a disease to their own spouse or partner.

So the officers here lost their cool when one of them got stuck, and two of them proceeded to whale on Healy, who was still handcuffed. The third officer just stood there and did nothing to protect Healy or to stop the other two officers. Then, when they wrote their report, they said Healy resisted. They lied on a police report to cover up the fact that they beat on him due to a needle stick. A sergeant later approved their report.

This is appalling, because one of the officers have clearly lost control, yelling:

“I’ll [expletive] shoot you in the [expletive] back if you run…”

“I’m going to beat the holy [expletive] out of you again.” (Edits in orginal.)

And then another supervisor reviewed the video tape and realized what happened. Following a quick internal investigation, Officers Mark Decamps, Marcus Craig and Nick Henderson, along with Sergeant Kyle Kassel, were suspended for 21 days without pay. The chief of police, Billy Bolin, called in the Indiana State Police to handle the criminal investigation. He also notified the three officers that he intends to terminate them and demote the sergeant.

To me, this is crystal clear. The 21-days was for the excessive force. He wants to fire the three officers for lying. If you lie, you are worthless as a police officer, because your testimony is now worthless. The sergeant is being demoted because he was lazy and didn’t do his job, or because he didn’t see a problem in the officers beating the guy.

In any event, the officers will go before the Evansville Police Merit Commission, who will determine if they should be fired or not. If they complete their 21-day suspension before a decision is made, the Chief may suspend them with pay pending the determination by the Commission.

Healy is still in jail, on charges of battery on law enforcement (body fluid), burglary, resisting law enforcement, theft with a prior conviction, possession of methamphetamine, and unlawful possession of a syringe. Several of these of these charges carry a potential for from 6 months to 2-1/2 years incarceration. The battery charge carries a potential for up to 50 years in prison, dependent on the disease involved.

I don’t have a problem with Healy still being in jail and facing a long sentence. He’s responsible for the officer being stuck. I don’t have a problem with the 21-day suspension for the use of force. That can be, dependent on the officer’s history, a just punishment. By the same token, I’m all for the officers being fired. You can’t lie on a report and remain a cop. You just can’t.

8 Comments on this post.

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  • TheHawk296
    15 November 2016 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Fired is NOT enough. If “The Great State of Indiana” has any laws on the books regarding falsifying a government record (e.g. the police report) then they need to be prosecuted for it.

    This also begs to question shy when someone files a complaint against a police officer, in many jurisdictions, it must be signed “under penalty of perjury”. In some cases the complainant will be prosecuted if there are only minor discrepancies between the complaint and what the officer said happened. Why aren’t police officers held to the same standard by being required to sign their reports “under penalty of perjury”?

    These cops also need to be prosecuted for assault. “I’m going to beat the holy [expletive] out of you again.” – If this isn’t grounds for a prosecution, then the DA needs to be disbarred.

    Congratulations to Police Chief Bolin who initiated a quick external investigation and decided to fire and demote the offending officers. We need many, many more like him.

    One question to be asked – IF these officers are returned to the force, will they be on the DA’s list of officers who do cannot make reliable witnesses, and will the DA provide the names of those officers as Brady material?

    • Greg Prickett
      15 November 2016 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      I think you are correct. I also have no confidence that they will be charged with the assault, it’s more likely that they will be charged with a false report offense of some sort.

      If they do stay in law enforcement, then yes, they should be on the Brady list.

  • Donald
    15 November 2016 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    “I don’t have a problem with Healy still being in jail and facing a long sentence. He’s responsible for the officer being stuck.”

    I have a problem with that.

    I’ve seen dozens of frisks and searches incident to arrest, the first thing the cops ask is “is there anything in your pockets that’s going to stick me?”

    That didn’t happen here, this cop went in without warning. He was extremely careless while searching a guy that very much looked like a drug addict. That’s not the defendant’s fault, that’s a willful disregard of safety on the part of the officer. If they want to get him for possession, fine, but don’t double on bullshit by charging him with battery.

    • Greg Prickett
      15 November 2016 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      If you ask and he doesn’t answer? You can’t hold him responsible if he doesn’t tell you that he is committing a felony, so it would be OK then? When you are asking the question about getting stuck, you are asking him to confess to a crime, and that failure to confess cannot be the base of another crime.

      No, he put the needle in his pocket, he’s responsible. This could end up killing the officer, it’s not a crap charge.

      • Agammamon
        16 November 2016 at 12:27 am - Reply

        Then maybe, for officer safety, we should not make possession of a syringe a crime then?

        Then there wouldn’t be any incentive to cover up possession of a syringe during a search.

        • Brad
          16 November 2016 at 4:39 am - Reply

          Or, better yet, exclude the syringe evidence when a suspect does ‘fess up. Better to lose the felony and incentivize protection of officer safety.

          Also, the reason that the officer should ask is not so much because the suspect will warn the popoman (although I am sure some do, happily), but rather to establish intent for the battery and/or assault charge(s) when the suspect fails to warn the popoman.

          In this case, I don’t think the suspect had the requisite intent for assault and/or battery, but I would feel differently if he had been given a clear opportunity to warn the popoman.

      • Paul Cantrell
        21 November 2016 at 7:26 am - Reply

        I’m not a lawyer, nor LEO, but I don’t agree with you. If you ask and he doesn’t answer, assume he does and do what you would have done if he had said “yes”. If you don’t even ask, well, “darwin”. The only way I can see someone should be charged in a case like this is if you ask and he says “no” and then you get stuck.

        BTW, my wife is in healthcare and runs this risk everyday (several members of her staff have been stuck, one got hepatitis from it). Nobody gets arrested in this case, it’s an accident and the staff member simply wasn’t careful enough, and/or “accidents happen”. It’s just part of the job for goodness sake.

        Same should be true for LEO.

        • Greg Prickett
          21 November 2016 at 9:02 am - Reply

          Healthcare professionals normally do not get stuck while searching a suspect.

          North Carolina prohibits prosecution for possession of paraphernalia if the suspect informs the officer before a search. In Pennsylvania a guy was convicted of reckless endangerment.

          And they should be charged if anyone is stuck, not just an LEO.