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03-06-08, 11:40 PM #1
Gary, Indiana Police Chief arrested after assaulting and violating the civil rights of two people who broke into his house
INDIANAPOLIS - The police chief in the violence-plagued city of Gary assaulted two people he suspected of burglarizing his home and had them and two others wrongfully locked up for three days, prosecutors said Thursday. Police Chief Thomas Houston and two top aides surrendered to U.S. marshals on Thursday, the day after they were indicted on federal civil rights charges.
Houston faces six counts of depriving the civil rights of another, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said in statement. If convicted, he faces up to 24 years in prison.
Among other things, Houston was accused of kicking a handcuffed suspect in the stomach and punching another suspect, a woman, also in the stomach.
Deputy Chief Thomas Branson was charged with civil rights violations and lying to federal agents, while Sgt. Thomas Decanter faces one civil rights count.
Houston returned from a funeral June 1 and found his house had been ransacked and a gun was missing, the indictment said. It said he and Branson went to a home that same day and that Houston assaulted two of the suspects and had all four arrested and detained without probable cause.
Branson and Decanter are accused of striking a third suspect in the arm with a piece of wood.
Branson's attorney, former Mayor Scott King, said the indictments stemmed from "a subjective, one-sided investigation."
"If we make an analogy, it's the bottom of the first inning and the home team did not have a pitcher up," he told reporters outside the courthouse.
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay had appointed Houston as chief the northern Indiana city last May. He said Thursday that the indictment was a surprise, as Houston had been with the department for 42 years with "no blemishes at all."
"What we're talking about here is probably three of the best police officers anywhere in the country," said Clay.
The indictment did not give the alleged victims' names or a possible motive for the defendants' actions. None of the four suspects was charged in connection with the break-in, authorities said.
Justice Department spokeswoman Jodi Bobb declined to give further detail. A Gary police department spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Houston had said when he was appointed police chief that he would shake up the 256-officer force. But the city suffered its largest increase in homicides in nearly a decade, with 71 occurring in the city of nearly 100,000 people during 2007.
03-07-08, 08:19 AM #2
Just my .02, but I think they got off pretty easy just being assaulted.
03-07-08, 05:38 PM #3
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