‘Remorseful’ Indianapolis Cop Pleads Guilty In Federal Court After Being Caught on Bodycam Stomping Handcuffed Man In the Face, Admits ‘There Was No Legitimate’ Reason to ‘Use Hard Strikes’

An Indianapolis police sergeant who was recorded stomping a handcuffed man in the face after that man was arrested and forced to the ground has pleaded guilty in federal court to violating his civil rights.

Eric Huxley, 44, entered a guilty plea last week to one felony count of deprivation of rights under color of law after he used excessive force during an arrest. According to the Justice Department, Huxley could face a penalty of up to 10 years in prison followed by supervised release. His sentencing date has not yet been set.

The plea comes a couple of years after an incident where Huxley was caught on bodycam head stomping Jermaine Vaughn in downtown Indianapolis as Vaughn was being arrested for disorderly conduct.

Indianapolis Police Sgt. Eric M. Huxley pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the civil rights of Jermaine Vaughn after body camera footage shows Huxley kicking Vaughn in the face in this September 2021 encounter. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/CBS4 Indy)

Investigators said Huxley, who was on patrol, was called to Monument Circle on Sept. 24, 2021, to help officers de-escalate a confrontation with Vaughn that happened after Vaughn was placed in handcuffs.

Related: ‘Terror, Panic’: 50 Cops Show Up to Detroit Hospital After Black Worker Was Asked to Play Gunman In Unannounced Active Shooter Drill. He Ended Up In Handcuffs ‘Scared for His Life.’

Once Vaughn was cuffed, officers attempted to search him. When they began to remove his belt, that’s when Vaughn reportedly became confrontational. Bodycam footage shows one officer forcing Vaughn to the ground on the steps of Monument Circle with a department-approved maneuver while another officer restrained his legs.

Vaughn was unable to physically move at that point.

A moment later, Huxley’s legs come into view on the body camera as he approaches Vaughn. He’s seen lifting his foot and intentionally thrusting his foot into Vaughn’s face. Then, Huxley or another officer is heard on the footage saying, “Stop. You’re done. You’re done. You’re done.”

Huxley claimed he didn’t intend to stomp Vaughn in the face.

“I accidentally kicked him in his face. I was attempting to put my foot on his shoulder, and I accidentally kicked him in his face,” according to his statement in a probable cause affidavit.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police stated they later learned of the violent arrest more than a week after it happened during an internal review of their use of force procedures. Once they discovered what happened, they launched internal investigations.

Huxley was subsequently suspended without pay and indicted by the Southern District of Indiana U.S. Attorney’s Office in October 2022. He also was charged with two Level-6 felonies by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, which is official misconduct and battery with moderate bodily injury.

Vaughn was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement, but those charges were later dropped. In February, he filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Indianapolis, its police department, and the officers involved in his arrest, seeking monetary damages. Vaughn claims Huxley “used excessive and unlawful force when he viciously attacked and kicked.”

“This police officer violently and callously assaulted a homeless man who posed no threat,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to investigate and prosecute law enforcement officers for violating federal civil rights laws.”

The Indianapolis Star reported that Huxley’s attorney John Kautzman stated Huxley was “remorseful” following his actions that day, which prompted the decision to enter into a plea agreement.

That agreement states that Huxley “knew that there was no legitimate law enforcement reason to use hard strikes, including foot strikes, against the head or face of a person who is handcuffed, under effective control by other officers, and physically unable to harm others.”

Huxley’s guilty plea in federal court is separate from the state felony charges he still faces in the criminal case in Marion County. A hearing took place for that case last week.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Randal Taylor has recommended Huxley’s termination to the department’s Civilian Police Merit Board. Board members are expected to review that recommendation when Huxley’s criminal cases conclude.

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