Police: Officer Baited in Altercation That Injured Him

WRTV-TV (Indianapolis), July 30, 2010

Relations between the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and some members of the African-American community are still a sore spot in the weeks since the Brandon Johnson incident.

Case in point–an altercation in which an officer was injured during a presentation to a youth symposium last weekend that officials said was staged, leading to the suspension of a parks manager and animosity among officers, 6News’ Jack Rinehart reported.

Sgt. Matthew Grimes was asked to give a presentation to a church audience on July 24 at Municipal Gardens, in the 1800 block of Lafayette Road.

During the presentation, an altercation broke out in the crowd, and Grimes intervened. The officer was thrown to the ground and drew his Taser, ready to stun one of the people involved, police said.

At that point, someone stepped in and told the officer that the incident had been concocted to test the reaction of the officer to the situation, police said. Grimes suffered severe back spasms after the incident and was taken to Methodist Hospital for treatment.

James Harrington, pastor of the Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church, said he set up the scenario to test a white officer’s reaction to a fight between two black men.

“Their job is to protect and serve, and even though they have families and children, that they don’t put any regard to their safety,” Harrington said. “I don’t think it was dangerous because it was in a controlled environment.”

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Willard Gupton, a park manager who police said had advance knowledge of the plan, was suspended in the wake of the incident.

“I can basically say we didn’t do anything wrong,” Gupton said Friday evening. “It was simply just trying to make a teachable moment, to try and teach young people about violence.”

Details of the altercation incensed Marion County Public Safety Director Frank Straub, who called the ordeal disturbing and disappointing, indicating that a few activists are trying to bait officers.

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Straub said Saturday’s incident wasn’t the only indication that some people are intentionally stirring the pot. There have been multiple incidents of officers being fired upon in recent weeks, he said.

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