Gary firefighter denies accusations of City Hall vandalism

A Gary firefighter who was arrested April 26 following a confrontation with police as they worked to impound his car said he does not know why police would think his vehicle was involved in a crime.

In a Wednesday interview with the Post-Tribune, Marlon Northern Jr., 27, said he was arrested after the confrontation with police, who were attempting to impound his vehicle which they told Northern was wanted as evidence in a police investigation.

At the time, police told him the vehicle was seen during a suspected vandalism incident at City Hall and they had orders to impound it. The probable cause affidavit confirms the account.

“I was very mad. This car was not involved in no vandalism,” he said.

Northern was charged on April 27 with misdemeanor counts of intimidation, resisting law enforcement and disorderly conduct.

Northern said he left his apartment Friday to get his mail when he saw two men looking into and underneath his car and immediately approached the vehicle to confront the men and defend his property. Northern carries a legal handgun and Indiana is an open carry state.

“I thought they were strangers and was instantly ready to protect my property,” Northern said.

Northern’s interaction with police was captured on video and shared to social media, where it had hundreds of shares and comments as of Friday. In the video, an increasingly defensive Northern can be seen and heard yelling as he questioned police why they were there.

Northern is heard shouting, “Who sent you? Who sent you?” and questions whether the responding officers had a warrant.

Police can impound a vehicle without a warrant but cannot search it without one.

He said he now understands there were other things he could have asked police to possibly handle things differently, like asking for a supervisor to respond to the scene.

“If I had my (fire department) badge on, I would have been treated differently,” Northern said.

Northern said he did not understand why police did not tell him beforehand they would be impounding his vehicle, so he did not think his car was being stolen. He also disputes the police account in the probable cause affidavit, saying he never had his hand on his weapon and voluntarily walked to the back of the police car to be restrained.

Ultimately, he said, police used a stun gun on him multiple times.

“That day nobody came to knock on my door,” Northern said.

Northern spent the weekend in jail, getting out Monday morning on a $1,500 bond. He is also required to wear a home detention ankle monitor. While incarcerated, Northern said he was moved multiple times from the Gary Police Department holding cell to the Lake County Jail, where he said he was put in the maximum-security wing and then in solitary confinement. He said at times he was unable to communicate with his wife.

The couple were able to retrieve the vehicle from the impound lot Tuesday after police obtained a warrant Monday to search it.

Police Chief Derrick Cannon Thursday said there was no additional information to report on the case.

Northern said he and his family had just returned from traveling to the West Coast where they visited states where he said the family’s Native American ancestors called home. He recently learned his heritage was Native American and not Black after a DNA test and research providing a paper trail of birth announcements, marriage licenses and death certificates.

Northern said he has worked as a firefighter for three years and loves the city.

“I’m not thinking about vandalizing my town. They are trying to say my vehicle was involved…I just got back in town,” Northern said. He discounted the possibility one of the city’s license plate readers or security cameras could have captured his plate number.

Northern’s tenure with the fire department has not been without issues. He confirmed he was put on paid administrative leave in December after a female co-worker accused him of sexual harassment. Northern said the pair worked together and he helped show her the ins and outs of the city when she was new. During that time, he said he noticed improper patient care.

He said the harassment accusations were made after he reported the co-worker for not performing her job properly.

“I did not harass no one,” Northern said.

The employee also filed for an order of protection in Porter County. In the document, the individual alleges between October and November 2023 Northern began sexually harassing her at work by sending texts and images despite her tell him ‘no’. On Jan. 10 the Gary Fire Department served him with a verified complaint and “Told many coworkers including our Fire Chief ‘I’ll kill that …..I know where she lives,” according to the document.

The order of protection lists Fire Chief Larry Tillman as a witness. The order bars Northern from contact with the woman and prevents him from going near her home or the fire department.

A hearing on the matter has been set before the Fire Commission on May 16. Northern said he got notice of the hearing via email as soon as he and his wife returned to town, but said the city told him they had tried to notify him twice before. Northern said he still has not retrieved the hard copy of the notice from his mailbox.

Erika Blackwell, chief communications officer for the city, said the vandalism at City Hall is under investigation by the Gary Police Department. At this time, no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed, she said.

Blackwell said the city is unable to comment on any matters which are currently under investigation.

She said Northern is on paid administrative leave from the fire department relating to the existing complaint before the fire commission.

Northern said the ordeal has left him and his family traumatized.

“This was very, very traumatizing,” Northern said. “They made me feel like less than the person I am. They are trying to destroy my character.”