Officer's actions toward Black lndiana senator under review

Indiana State Police

The incident happened Saturday after Democratic Sen. Eddie Melton of Gary and another senator led a few dozen people taking part in an Indiana Racial Justice Alliance rally inside the Statehouse when a thunderstorm arrived.

Posted: Jul 14, 2020 3:46 PM
Updated: Jul 14, 2020 5:15 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana State Police are reviewing allegations that a white Capitol Police officer reached for his handgun while confronting a Black state senator inside the Statehouse over the weekend, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.

The incident happened Saturday while Democratic Sen. Eddie Melton of Gary was taking part in a rally sponsored by the Indiana Racial Justice Alliance.

The event started outside the Statehouse, but Melton and another senator led the few dozen people taking part inside the building when a thunderstorm arrived.

The Statehouse has been closed to the public during the coronavirus outbreak, but Democratic Sen. J.D. Ford of Indianapolis, who is white, said private security staff allowed the group inside before calling to the area two Capitol Police officers who were aggressive from the start.

Belinda Drake, a Democratic state Senate candidate from Indianapolis, said a white Capitol Police officer rushing toward the group saw Melton and yelled at him to “freeze” while unsnapping the holster on his firearm.

“Senator Ford tried to deescalate the situation, tried to get the trooper to take notice and listen, but the trooper was so singularly focused on Senator Melton,” Drake said.

State police spokesman 1st Sgt. Ron Galaviz said the agency had received a formal complaint and was conducting an internal investigation.

No video or photographs have yet emerged of the confrontation involving Melton, who spent several months as a candidate seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

In online video of the rally, Melton appeared shaken when he spoke afterward while wearing a T-shirt featuring the words “I can’t breathe,” the words spoken by George Floyd while a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into the Black man’s neck for several minutes before he died in May.

“An incident just occurred and just that quick, it could have escalated,” Melton said while snapping his fingers. “Just that quick. The reach for a weapon. That don’t make sense.”

Ford said he understood the officers might not have realized he and Melton were legislators because they were wearing casual clothes.

“But that does not make it any better,” Ford said. “No member of the public deserves to be treated that way or spoken to so disrespectfully by officers who are there to serve the public.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16088730
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Cass18029
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 102826

Reported Deaths: 3708
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18697529
Cuyahoga13734505
Hamilton9766257
Lucas5448326
Montgomery443896
Summit3614223
Butler297663
Marion293545
Mahoning2595255
Pickaway239142
Stark1884140
Warren182139
Lorain181377
Columbiana167160
Trumbull1549108
Fairfield141632
Delaware134419
Licking131951
Clark117815
Lake113141
Wood106858
Clermont95311
Medina94535
Miami85839
Tuscarawas79314
Portage77163
Allen76946
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Mercer63113
Belmont62326
Richland61412
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Ashtabula57646
Geauga55944
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Ross4944
Darke40629
Huron4045
Madison40110
Ottawa39626
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Hancock3893
Athens3602
Holmes3286
Lawrence3000
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Seneca2283
Knox2127
Putnam21117
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Washington20922
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Morrow1762
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Hardin17012
Clinton1696
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Perry1403
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