INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indianapolis police officer accused of kicking a handcuffed man in the face during a 2021 arrest pleaded guilty Monday to a federal charge.
Sgt. Eric Huxley pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release after prison, The Indianapolis Star reported.
A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled for Huxley, who was suspended from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department after the September 2021 confrontation. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2022 for alleged use of excessive force during his arrest of Jermaine Vaughn.
Body camera footage police released of Vaughn’s arrest shows an officer forcing Vaughn to the ground at downtown Indianapolis’ Monument Circle. Seconds later, the video shows Huxley thrusting his foot down onto Vaughn’s face as he is in handcuffs.
Vaughn, whose lawyer said he was homeless at the time, was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and later charged with two misdemeanors of disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement, but both of those charges were dismissed.
Vaughn sued the city of Indianapolis, its police department and Huxley in February, alleging Huxley “used excessive and unlawful force when he viciously attacked and kicked” him in the face while handcuffed. Vaughn says in his lawsuit that he suffered “extensive physical injuries.”
Huxley’s attorney, John Kautzman, told reporters Monday outside the federal courthouse in Indianapolis that his client has always been “remorseful” about his actions that day, which influenced his decision to enter into a plea agreement. He said Huxley knows what he did was “thoughtless” at the time.
Huxley's plea agreement states that he “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."
Police Chief Randal Taylor has recommended Huxley's termination to the department’s Civilian Police Merit Board, which will review that recommendation when Huxley’s criminal cases conclude.
Huxley also faces state charges in the confrontation with Vaughn. He was charged in Marion County with battery and official misconduct.