2 IMPD officers indicted for battery, misconduct in May arrests of two women amid protests

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced Wednesday that a grand jury returned indictments against two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers accused of using excessive force while arresting two women during the height of protests in downtown Indianapolis. 

Officer Jonathan Horlock, a five-year veteran, and Officer Nathaniel Schauwecker, an eight-year veteran, are both facing multiple felony and misdemeanor charges in connection to the incident captured on camera the night of May 31 at the corner of North Pennsylvania and East Washington.

Horlock was indicted on three counts of battery, official misconduct, perjury and obstruction of justice. Schauwecker is accused of four counts of battery and two counts of official misconduct. 

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears at a press conference to talk about a grand jury indictment of two officers following alleged use of force violations during local social justice protests in late May, Indianapolis, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. The officers are Nathaniel Schauwecker and Jonathan Horlock, and the indictments include a variety of misdemeanors and level five and six felonies.

Two other officers involved in the incident were identified last week as Sgt. David Kinsey, a 20-year veteran; and Officer Conrad Simpson, an 18-year veteran. Kinsey and Simpson were not indicted.

“I hold great respect for our criminal justice system and have faith that this process will deliver a just outcome,” IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said in a statement.

The officers will remain on administrative duty while the internal investigation continues, Taylor said, and he intends to “address our administrative review of the officer conduct at the conclusion of the ongoing criminal prosecution.”

The grand jury

Indianapolis residents Ivoré Westfield and Rachel Harding said police battered them without cause and used excessive force when arresting them about 45 minutes past curfew on May 31. Widely circulated video of the arrest shows officers using batons and pepper balls on the women.

In response, Westfield and Harding filed an excessive force lawsuit in federal court against the four officers. The women are seeking seeking damages, attorney’s fees, litigation costs and other expenses.

In response to Wednesday’s announcement of charges, Terrance Kinnard, the attorney representing Westfield and Harding, thanked local officials and the grand jury.

“We are very pleased with the effort, resolve and diligence shown by Ryan Mears … he and his staff responded to this matter with the utmost respect and regard, not only for Ms. Westfield and Ms. Harding, but also our community,” Kinnard said in a statement. “We also thank the grand jury for their time, attention and diligence, especially in light of the current environment of a worldwide pandemic.”

Horlock and Schauwecker did not have a disciplinary record with IMPD, according to personnel records released last week. Mears said a grand jury was presented evidence to determine whether there was enough probable cause to charge the officers.

That process, including what evidence was provided to the grand jury for consideration, is confidential. 

Mears said using a grand jury was necessary to make a proper final determination of charges. A grand jury consists of six jurors and one alternate, all of whom reside in Marion County.

“What better way to make a determination as to whether or not someone’s conduct was reasonable under the circumstances than to take it to the community?” Mears said. “In these types of cases when you have a reasonableness standard, it makes sense to talk to the community about what is reasonable and what is not reasonable under the circumstances. And that’s how we ended up in front of the grand jury.”

The night of the arrests

According to Kinnard, his clients were Downtown to view the protests and photograph the events. Westfield, realizing that a curfew instituted to contain violence that occurred after protests concluded was about to go into effect, asked Harding for a ride home. 

The two women did not know each other before that day.

Harding and Westfield were walking to Harding’s car in the 100 block of East Washington Street around 8:45 p.m. when police approached them for violating the curfew 8 p.m. curfew.

The video of their arrest begins with an officer holding Westfield from behind. The officer’s left arm is under her left arm and positioned near her chest. She twists out of his grasp and steps away before being surrounded by additional officers.

The video then shows officers striking her with batons and pepper balls until she falls to the sidewalk. One officer holds Westfield by placing his hand, holding a baton, against the back of her neck as her face presses against the pavement.

The pepper balls broke Westfield’s skin and caused welts, according to Kinnard. The baton strikes caused severe swelling and bruising to both of Westfield’s legs and pelvic area.

Ivoré Westfield sits at the intersection of Pennsylvania and Washington Streets after she was arrested for a curfew violation by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Black Lives Matter protests were broken up in downtown Indianapolis, Sunday, May 31, 2020. She and another woman, Rachel Harding, have filed suit against four members of the IMPD, after a video of the arrest, captured by WISH TV, showed Westfield grabbed around her upper chest, she then appears to shake off the hold and stand still while officers beat her with batons and shoot her with pepper balls at close range went viral on social media. The protests follow the recent fatal shooting of Dreasjon Reed in Indianapolis by a member of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. The protest echos days of national unrest over after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers.

Harding stands nearby during the arrest, shouting: “Why her? Why her?” One officer rushes over to Harding and shoves her backward to the ground.

According to court documents, an IMPD sergeant present at the time did not intervene to stop the use of force against the women, instead encouraging it by ordering officers to “hit her.”

Officers recommended charging Westfield with battery against a public safety official, violating the curfew order and resisting law enforcement. They recommended a charge of violating the executive order for Harding.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges and both women were released from the Marion County Jail in the early morning hours of June 2.

When asked if seeing their fellow officers charged for using force while on duty could have an impact on how local police conduct themselves, Mears said he could not speak to that. He added that the impact on the community should also be considered.

“Does the community have confidence that people’s conduct, regardless of who they are, is going to be evaluated fairly by everybody involved?” he said. “I think that’s the bigger question or issue that we see not only in Marion County, but across the country. That is a very real discussion that we are having.”

IndyStar has reached out to the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police for comment.

Pending lawsuit

Horlock is also named as a defendant in a pending federal lawsuit related to the fatal shooting of 65-year-old Daniel Cedars on the morning of Nov. 19, 2018. Officer Ian Peterson is his co-defendant.

Police said the shooting happened around 1 a.m. at a home in the 6200 block of Monteo Drive, near Edgewood Avenue and Harding Street. Officers were responding to an incomplete 911 call in the area and determined which home the call came from.

Police said as the officers approached the home the homeowner, later identified as Cedars, began shooting at the officers. Police returned fire, striking Cedars.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Attorneys representing Cedars’ estate say Horlock and Peterson violated Cedars’ “clearly-established constitutional rights because their use of deadly force was excessive and unreasonable,” and that IMPD failed to discipline them.

The lawsuit alleges that the officers responded to Cedars’ home without properly identifying themselves as police officers, and shot Cedars out of panic because Cedars answered the door armed.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages and a jury trial.

IndyStar Reporter Ryan Martin contributed to this story.

Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at 317-444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.

Contact IndyStar reporter Elizabeth DePompei at 317-444-6196 or edepompei@indystar.com. Follow her on Twitter: @edepompei.