Saturday, April 30, 2011

IMPD Officer Charged With Stealing From Hispanic Victims

Three years ago, a Westfield police officer was charged with bribery for shaking down Hispanic victims he suspected of being illegal aliens for money in consideration for not arresting them after making traffic stops. Now it appears a veteran IMPD officer went one step further and simply stole property outright from Hispanic victims he pulled over for traffic stops. The Star's Vic Ryckaert reports on the charges filed against Officer David Butler, a 23-year veteran of the department:

A veteran Indianapolis police officer was arrested Friday on accusations that he used his badge to stop Hispanic motorists and clean out their wallets.

Prosecutors charged officer David J. Butler, a 23-year veteran, with robbery and official misconduct, both felonies, after an internal investigation linked him to the robberies of two men on the Northwestside, authorities said. One of the traffic stops was captured by a gas station's surveillance cameras, they said.

Butler was booked in the Marion County Jail on Friday and held on $15,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear Monday in Marion Superior Court for an initial hearing.

Prosecutors say Butler, 52, stole cash from two men during traffic stops in September and January. Investigators think there might be more victims and have urged anyone with information to come forward.

Prosecutor Terry Curry credited the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for discovering Butler's alleged crimes and bringing the evidence to his office.

"Their investigation uncovered a repetitive pattern of behavior by officer Butler, a pattern of behavior which plainly violated the trust the public placed in him," Curry said in a statement.

Mayor Greg Ballard said Butler's arrest shows that officers who tarnish the badge will be held accountable. He stressed that the actions of a single officer "do not diminish the outstanding police work" of the entire department . . .
Ryckaert's story notes Butler's arrest is one of eight police officers with the department to face criminal charges in the last year alone. Butler admitted to taking money from the victims during the traffic stops after initially denying it to detectives according to the report.

On another note, state legislation that would have allowed state and local law enforcement officials to take a greater role in enforcing the nation's immigration laws was altered considerably before its final passage last night. The legislation authored by Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel) now focuses on businesses that "knowingly" employ illegal immigrant by denying them tax breaks. Provisions requiring police to question persons about their immigrant status during arrests by requesting proof of their status was removed from the legislation.

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