The same Indianapolis police officer shown on video punching a 17-year-old Black boy after a reported school fight has also been charged with making false statements in reporting the incident.
Robert Lawson was charged with misdemeanor counts of battery and false informing and three level-six felonies of perjury, obstruction of justice and official misconduct, according to a probable-cause affidavit Atlanta Black Star obtained.
Detective John Howard of the Indianapolis Police Department disputed four different statements Lawson earlier made in the probable-cause affidavit.
In one instance, Lawson said he struck the student with an “open hand palm strike,” but the video showed he used a “closed fist with a protruding thumb,” Howard wrote.
In another instance, Lawson said the student’s “face was clinched in anger,” both of his hands were balled into fists and he “moved his right shoulder back and bladed his body.”
The video, which doesn’t depict the student’s face up close, showed his hands weren’t forming fists, Howard wrote.
Lawson also claimed his palm strike was successful and officers were able to handcuff the student without using more force, but the video showed he kneed the student in the abdomen or chest area, Howard wrote.
“It is after that strike that [the student] goes to the ground,” Howard said in his affidavit.
He also disputed Lawson’s claim that Sgt. Marzetta Jenkins was next to him during the incident and saw the student swing his fist at Lawson “a split second” before Lawson hit the student.
Neither video showed the student trying to hit Lawson, and Jenkins said she was by the front door of the school and didn’t tell Lawson she saw the student swing, Howard wrote in the affidavit.
Attorney Terrance Kinnard, who’s representing the injured teen, has filed a lawsuit against Lawson and two other Indianapolis school cops who allegedly sprayed chemicals to break up an earlier fight at the school.
“We believe the filing of charges was appropriate under the circumstances,” Kinnard said in the statement. “We respect and trust in the judicial process and look forward to seeing a just result in the criminal matter as well as in our pending federal litigation.
“Out of respect for the state and federal judiciary, we will have no further comment on pending litigation at this time.”