Chief wants Gary police officer fired for striking handcuffed man
Post-Tribune staff report October 7, 2013 6:08PM
Updated: November 9, 2013 6:19AM
GARY — A Hobart man with a lengthy criminal record accused 12-year veteran Patrolman Charles Minard of punching him in the eye during an arrest in January, causing broken bones.
Chief Wade Ingram is asking the Gary Police Civil Service Commission to fire Minard for using excessive force on a handcuffed suspect, then lying about his actions to Internal Affairs Division investigators.
Minard’s attorney, Schererville lawyer Mark Gruenhagen, argued there is no medical evidence his client’s blow caused the broken bones and that Minard, who is white, is facing a stiffer penalty than Patrolman Isiah Price, who is black and also accused of punching a suspect without provocation then lying about it.
In a disciplinary hearing Monday, Cpl. Greg Wolf testified he chased Todd Lunsford, 25, and captured him the second time Lunsford ran from police late Jan. 5.
The first time, after police arrived at a crash at 39th Avenue and Broadway, Lunsford was arrested and placed in handcuffs. Wolf said Lunsford appeared to be very drunk. He ran from the scene and was caught by Lt. Jeff Trevino, who was on his way to an off-duty security job. Wolf captured Lunsford the second time, pushing the man to the ground on a snowy easement, then falling on top of the man.
But as Wolf walked Lunsford back to the scene of the crash, Minard walked “kind of aggressively” toward them, Wolf said.
Minard punched Lunford’s face and the man’s legs collapsed; Wolf said he had to hold him up. Later, Wolf reported the incident to Trevino, the IAD supervisor.
Lunsford declined to give a complete statement to police, fearing it would complicate his criminal matters, Trevino testified. Lunsford did not appear at the hearing before attorney Derrick Julkes, who will make a written recommendation to the commission, which has final authority. Lunsford, who has several arrests for alcohol and drug-related offenses, is wanted on a warrant, Lake County court records show.
Trevino said he recommended termination for both Minard and Price, but Chief Wade Ingram reduced Price’s suggested punishment to 30 days. At Thursday night’s commission meeting, Price asked the board to impose the 30 days without a hearing, but was told he must make the request in writing.
Ingram testified the recommended discipline is different because Price did not cause injuries as serious as Lunsford’s, and the teen Price punched in the stomach was not in handcuffs.