An Indianapolis police officer was exonerated of brutality charges this morning after a marathon hearing before civilian disciplinary panel, reports the Indianapolis Star. The Police Merit Board deliberated for just under two hours before casting a 6-1 vote to clear Jerry Piland of wrongdoing. The vote at 3:55 a.m. after more than 24 hours of testimony generated hugs and backslaps among rank-and-file officers who considered the outcome a referendum on acceptable uses of force.
It also sparked a promise of recriminations for the pollice department from black clergy members, who had held up the bloodied, battered image of 15-year-old Brandon Johnson’s face as a symbol of callous police conduct and needed change. “The community is not going to be happy about this,” said the Rev. Richard Willoughby, pastor of Promised Land Christian Community Church, who attended most of the hearing that stretched just over two days. The verdict was a defeat for the police leadership’s plan to crack down on what they perceive as rogue cops. Public Safety Director Frank Straub and Police Chief Paul Ciesielski said Piland’s treatment of Johnson was the type of police aggression they want to weed out.