Felony charges were filed Monday against the Indianapolis police officer caught on video hitting a 17-year-old student outside Shortridge High School last month.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry says video evidence was crucial in the investigation leading to the five charges against IMPD Officer Robert Lawson, including a Class A Misdemeanor for the battery of the teen.
Indianapolis police officers were called to Shortridge High School on Aug. 29 help school police handle a large fight inside the school. Afterward, the 17-year-old, who was involved in the altercation in the school, began to leave the school grounds with his aunt.
A verbal altercation between the aunt, Danielle Pointer, and IMPD Officer Lawson outside the school was captured on video released through social media. In the video, Pointer and Lawson yell at each other as the boy walks between them and stands still before Lawson strikes the student in the face.
The video shows the student falling to the ground. The officer is white and the boy is black.
In Lawson’s police report, he said he used an open hand strike because he was in fear of the teen. Lawson also reported another officer at the scene told him she saw student swing his fist at Lawson right before Lawson struck the student.
But the Marion County Chief Trial Deputy Ryan Mears says multiple videos and witness evidence disputed Lawson’s account.
Instead, Mears says, the evidence found Lawson was allegedly not in fear and he used a closed fist to hit the student in the face and kneed the student in the chest or abdomen area. Additionally, according to the charging documents, the officer who Lawson said witnessed the teen's attempt to punch him, denied making the statement that she saw it happen.
“In fact, the video evidence, as well as the witness statements directly contradict Officer Lawson’s report,” Mears said. “There are a number of, not only inaccuracies but also false statements that relate to material facts.”
Lawson is charged with battery, Class A Misdemeanor. Plus, based on Lawson’s alleged false statements made while reporting the incident in the official documentation, he is charged with obstruction of justice, a Level 6 Felony; perjury, a Level 6 Felony; false informing, a Class B Misdemeanor; and official misconduct, a Level 6 Felony.
Lawson turned himself in Monday afternoon, under arrangements made between his attorney and the court.
Indianapolis attorney Terrance Kinnard filed a federal lawsuit against IMPD over the incident. Kinnard’s represents the student and Pointer, the student’s aunt.