An Indianapolis, Ind., police officer who was captured on video punching a high school student has been charged with battery and several felony and misdemeanor counts stemming from allegedly false reports he made about the encounter.
Chalkbeat Indiana reports that the officer — 43-year-old Robert Lawson — is accused of making false statements about an Aug. 29 incident in which he struck a 17-year-old student at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis.
Lawson asserted in official reports that he threw an “open palm hand strike” at the student in self-defense, because he believed the student was about to hit him.
“These statements are believed to be false and contrary to video evidence, which appears to show Officer Lawson striking the juvenile with a closed fist and continuing to use force including a knee strike to the juvenile’s abdomen or chest area,” the Marion County prosecutor’s office said in a news release.
In addition to battery, Lawson has charged with obstruction of justice, perjury, false informing, and official misconduct.
Lawson without suspended without pay shortly after the incident, and Indianapolis Police Chief Bryan Roach is recommending his firing to the merit board, a civilian oversight group.
“We believe the filing of charges was appropriate under the circumstances,” the student’s lawyer said in a statement Monday. “We respect and trust in the judicial process and look forward to seeing a just result.”
Earlier this month, The Indianapolis Star reported, the student's family filed a lawsuit against Lawson and two other unnamed officers, contending that the officers violated the teen's civil rights. The suit "punitive damages in an amount sufficient to deter Defendants from again engaging" in that kind of conduct.
The video in question was posted lasted month on Facebook by Starla Denise-Mcgee Sams:
Video from WRTV: