EPD Investigating Off-Duty Officer's Use of Force on Elderly Man

By JORDAN VANDENBERGE | jvandenberge@tristatehomepage.com

Published 05/27 2014 06:48PM

Updated 06/02 2014 07:35PM

The Evansville Police Department is investigating an off-duty officer's use of force on a 78-year-old man inside the lobby of an Old National Bank branch.

The use of force occurred around noon on Thursday of last week at the Old National Bank branch at Washington and Kentucky. Although the cell phone video only shows part of what happened, EPD is reviewing any and all information from the incident, said Sgt. Jason Cullum.

After not being able to cash two checks at the drive-thru window, Arnold Wallace, 78, said he walked into the banking center that afternoon. Wallace laid the papers down on the desk and asked to close his account.

"Next thing I know I had handcuffs on both hands and I'm getting jumped," Wallace said.

The cell phone video of the incident exclusively obtained by Eyewitness News doesn't show the initial contact. However, what the video does show is the officer asking the face-up Wallace to turn over onto his stomach. In the video, Wallace can be heard screaming that he cannot turn over onto his stomach. About 11 seconds into the video, the officer grabs the sleeve of Wallace's shirt to roll him over. Wallace continues to scream, according to the video. A little later into the video, you can hear a bank employee claiming Wallace had thrown his papers into the air.

"I think [the officer] needs to lose [his] job," Wallace said. "We don't need [the police] to be using our [tax] money to let them treat people like that."

As a result of the incident, Wallace said he suffered deep bruising and cuts to his arms and a couple of broken ribs. The cuts on his arms, Wallace said, came from the handcuffs. Sgt. Cullum said it appears those injuries could have come from the struggle that ensued when Wallace was partially cuffed.

The totality of Wallace's injuries have left him unable to move around the house without tremendous difficulty, he said. Following the incident, Wallace was taken to the hospital by ambulance, according to Sgt. Cullum. Wallace was not arrested but a report was taken, Sgt. Cullum said. As is with any use of force incident, a supervisor was notified.

"The investigation we're doing is a use of force investigation," Sgt. Cullum said. "We do those every time there is a use of force no matter how low on the use of force spectrum it was or how high it was."

Wallace has yet to file a formal complaint with EPD's Internal Affairs Division, Sgt. Cullum said. However, Wallace said he intends to do so because he believes excessive force was used. EPD is reviewing all of the information available, including the cell phone video, even though it begins after the initial contact, police said.

As for when the use of force is necessary, the first and most common scenario is if there's someone who poses a physical threat towards the officer or someone else and the officer needs to control the person's movement and put them into custody, Sgt. Cullum said. The second scenario, according to Sgt. Cullum, occurs when the officer is giving lawful commands and the person is not compliant. Sgt. Cullum said the investigation will determine whether or not the incident involving Wallace fit into either one of these scenarios.

"That's where the investigation comes in," Sgt. Cullum said. "That's what we're trying to figure out and we'll take all those things into consideration."

Officials from Old National Bank released the following statement.

"We understand that an incident at one of our Evansville banking centers last week involving an off duty Evansville Police officer who was working as a security guard is currently being investigated by the Evansville Police Department, as is the standard procedure in such situations. Old National is cooperating fully with the EPD in their investigation."

The incident is still under investigation.

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