A picture along with a Facebook post lead to an internal investigation for the Evansville Police Department. The investigation involves an alleged incident between an off-duty Evansville firefighter and two Evansville Police officers.
It shows a man placed in handcuffs, looking down and defeated, flanked by an Evansville Police Officer. This picture of off-duty Evansville fireman George Madison Jr. quickly made it's rounds on Facebook. It then came to the attention of Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin.
"I don't mean to discredit George at all," Chief Bolin said. "But we have to hear all sides and a lot of times both sides may have the same story but just from a different perspective."
In a Facebook post, Madison claims he was riding his bike when he raised his hand and waved to a nearby EPD patrol car, like he is known to do. According to the run card, the officers claimed Madison 'flipped' them off after he ran the stop sign and that's what prompted the stop.
Once the stop happened, Madison claims he started to call Chief Bolin, a dear friend of his, because the officers were acting aggressively. That's when officers say they told Madison to put the phone away while they talked to him. Officers then tried to reach for the phone, according to the run card. Officers say Madison pulled his arm back in an aggressive manor, prompting one of them to pull out his taser and order Madison to the ground. Madison says he immediately put his hands up and was thrown onto the ground and cuffed. Madison describes being terrified during the alleged incident.
The picture was taken on Tuesday afternoon at the corner of Kathleen and Weinbach. The alleged incident has left many people concerned.
"Once I heard it, saw it, I'm not in shock because it does happen," said Rev. Gerald Arnold, president of the Evansville Chapter of the NAACP. "It's not the police department itself. But there are individuals that overreact."
Rev. Arnold says he frequently meets Chief Bolin to discuss issues and complaints and a lot of good things come out of those meetings. It's safe to say the incident involving Madison will be the topic of conversation at their next meeting.
"Some things are not going to change until Jesus comes," Rev. Arnold said. "You're always going to have that one bad apple unfortunately."
The investigation into what happened is now being handled by internal affairs who will interview both parties next week. In 2010, EPD's Internal Affairs fielded 8 formal, written complaints and 48 informal complaints. That's out of the hundreds of thousands of runs that year. 2012 brought a significant decline. Internal affairs handled 5 formal complaints and 27 informal complaints. That came out of an even greater number of runs than in 2010.