An appellate court upholds the decision to fire a former Evansville police officer after an incident involving a student.
Mike Winters was fired by the Merit Commission in 2013 after being accused of inappropriately touching an EVSC student while he was on a security detail.
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the Merit Commission’s decision, saying Winter’s termination was supported by substantial evidence.
At the time of his termination, Winters was a 31-year veteran.
Click here to read the official court document
Winters was accused of grabbing a 16-year-old student’s groin area while he was serving as a resource officer at the Academy of Innovative Studies. According to Winters’ attorney, Charlie Berger, the student had been removed from class earlier in the day for poor behavior and placed in an in-school detention classroom.
Lisa Powers, a teacher at AIS, says Winters came to the classroom because the students were being disruptive and rowdy. After getting the students to sit in their seats, Winters says the victim started talking about fighting.
Winters says he advised the teen that he shouldn’t talk about fighting, and he could be arrested for disorderly conduct if he was caught fighting in school. That’s when the teen allegedly started saying he would just beat up kids who were smaller than him. Winters says he advised the boy that bullying was also not a good option.
As the conversation continued, Winters says he reached for the teen’s saggy pants in his groin region and said, “what would you do if someone did this to you?” When the student responded that he would be uncomfortable, Winters says he backed away and apologized. The veteran officer holds that he grabbed the cloth of the teen’s pants, not his genitals.
Winters admits his actions were inappropriate, but says he didn’t mean to make the teen uncomfortable. He says it was a teaching opportunity gone terribly wrong, adding that he was trying to teach the boy that one must always be prepared for retaliation if he or she chooses to fight others.