INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indianapolis police officer who pleaded guilty to kicking a handcuffed man in the face during a 2021 arrest was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison Friday by a judge who said the attack "shocked the conscience."
The sentence is less than the 1 1/2 to 2 years in prison that prosecutors had sought for Sgt. Eric Huxley, who pleaded guilty in May to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law for his attack on Jermaine Vaughn in September 2021.
U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson cited Huxley's lack of criminal history, his family's needs and his acceptance of responsibility for what he did in giving him a yearlong prison term, The Indianapolis Star reported. Magnus-Stinson also ordered Huxley to two years of supervised release after he completes his prison term, with home detention for the first six months.
Magnus-Stinson admonished Huxley for committing an act that "shocked the conscience" and said she "physically pulled away" when she watched the body camera footage of the attack at downtown Indianapolis' Monument Circle.
“It was that brutal,” she said.
Vaughn, who is Black, was homeless at the time, his attorney has said. He 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.
Federal prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum that Huxley “betrayed the trust of the community he served” when he attacked Vaughn and that he acted as a “rogue officer” who abused his power.
Huxley's attorney, John Kautzman, had pushed for no prison time, just probation. If the court found that inappropriate, Kautzman suggested six months in prison plus a year of home confinement,
In a response to prosecutors' memorandum, Kautzman called Huxley’s actions “serious and troublesome” but said they amounted to “a one-time totally out of character lapse in judgment.”
Kautzman said Huxley was worried about not being there for his teenage daughter and not being able to care for his aging parents.
Huxley remains on suspension without pay from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Police Chief Randal Taylor has recommended the officer's termination to the Civilian Police Merit Board.
In a lawsuit filed against the city, the police force and Huxley, Vaughn said he suffered "extensive physical injuries." The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, is pending.