INDIANAPOLIS — A former sergeant with the Muncie Police Department (MPD) in Muncie, Indiana, today pleaded guilty to a count of obstruction of justice for preparing a false report to allege the excessive use of force by other MPD officers under his command to cover up.
According to court documents and statements made during the plea amendment hearing on or about August 9, 2018, Joseph Krejsa, 52, at the scene of an arrest involving a civilian, responded with the initials LG before answering on When the crime scene arrived, other MPD officers under his supervision – including Officer Chase Winkle, the son of the then police chief – had used excessive force on LG, resulting in serious injuries to LG’s face. The day after the arrest, Krejsa conducted a regulatory review of the incident, during which he found that he had viewed videos of the incident and mistakenly considered this use of force to be “justified”.
A few days later, on or around 13 August and on August 14, 2018, the MPD Patrol Detachment Captain assigned Krejsa to conduct a more in-depth review of officers’ use of force during LG’s arrest, separate from the typical shift sergeant review. In response to this request, Krejsa viewed body-worn camera footage of the officers involved, which revealed what happened during the arrest: Two officers under his supervision, Chase Winkle and Corey Posey, approached LG in an alley and issued several verbal statements Orders to LG – including putting his hands on his head and getting down on the ground – and LG complied with those orders. On the ground, with Posey holding both of LG’s hands behind his back, LG directed a verbal insult at the officers, and in response, Winkle raised his left knee and dropped his body weight with his knee on LG’s neck and head area. LG yelled words like “He smashed my whole face!” and pulled his hands to his face. Winkle then bagged LG when other MPD officers, including Officer Jeremy Gibson, arrived to help. Towards the end of the incident, officers handcuffed one of LG’s hands, raised him to a sitting position, and Gibson delivered two powerful knee blows to LG, directly in the face.
After reviewing the officers’ body camera videos, Krejsa knowingly authored a lengthy memorandum for the MPD’s official records that contained several false statements. In particular, Krejsa wrongly implied that any force used against LG was justified to ensure the officers’ safety; falsely claiming that officers used only mild force at the start of the incident and only then escalated to higher levels of force after lower levels of force were ineffective; falsely claiming Winkle “kneeled [L.G.]’s left shoulder and torso,” although he actually knew Winkle had used his knee to hit LG’s head and neck area; and falsely implied that Winkle’s use of force against LG only caused cuts in LG’s face, despite knowing that using force against LG caused LG serious bodily harm. As part of his pleading, Krejsa admitted that he knew when he wrote the false report that the inaccuracies and material omissions in his report were intended to influence any possible investigation into the incident.
Krejsa is the fourth Muncie Police Department officer to plead guilty in connection with this investigation. Krejsa was one of four MPD officers charged in a 17-count indictment in April 2021 for their role in using excessive force against detainees and/or attempting to cover up wrongdoing. A fifth Muncie Police Officer, Dalton Kurtz, previously filed a guilty plea before the arraignment on August 4, 2021 on a misdemeanor charge for concealing and failing to report improper use of force by Winkle during a separate incident.
On May 13, 2022, Gibson also pled guilty to civil rights and disability charges for assaulting another arrestee and making a false account of the incident. On December 5, 2022, Winkle pleaded guilty to 11 counts of civil rights and disability offenses for assaulting detainees and making false reports of the incidents, including LG’s arrest. The last remaining officer is due to be tried at a later date.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, US Attorney Zachary A. Myers for the Southern District of Indiana and FBI Special Agent in Charge Indianapolis Herbert J. Stapleton made the announcement.
The Indianapolis FBI conducted the investigation.
Trial Attorneys Katherine G. DeVar and Mary J. Hahn of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Division and Assistant US Attorney Peter Blackett for the Southern District of Indiana are prosecuting the case.