A former sergeant with the Muncie Police Department (MPD), in Muncie, Indiana, pleaded guilty today to one count of obstruction of justice for writing a false report to cover up the excessive use of force by other MPD officers under his command.
According to court documents and statements made during the change of plea hearing, on or about Aug. 9, 2018, Joseph Krejsa, 52, responded to the scene of an arrest involving a civilian with the initials L.G. Before he arrived on the scene, other MPD officers under his supervision – including Officer Chase Winkle, the son of the then-Chief of Police – had used excessive force against L.G., resulting in serious injury to L.G.’s face. The day after the arrest, Krejsa conducted a supervisory review of the incident, during which he noted that he had watched the videos of the incident and falsely deemed those uses of force “justified.”
Several days later, on or about Aug. 13 and Aug. 14, 2018, the captain of MPD’s patrol division tasked Krejsa with conducting a more in-depth review of the officers’ uses of force during L.G.’s arrest, which was separate from the typical shift sergeant review. In response to this request, Krejsa watched the involved-officers’ body worn camera videos, which revealed what had happened during the arrest: Two officers under his supervision, Chase Winkle and Corey Posey, approached L.G. in an alley way and gave several verbal commands to L.G. – including to put his hands on his head and to get on the ground – and L.G. complied with those commands. On the ground, as Posey held both of L.G.’s hands behind his back, L.G. directed a verbal insult towards officers, and in response, Winkle, using his knee, dropped his bodyweight down onto L.G.’s neck and head area. L.G. screamed out words to the effect of, “He crushed my whole face!” and pulled his hands towards his face. Winkle then tased L.G., as other MPD officers, including Officer Jeremy Gibson, arrived to assist. Toward the end of the incident, officers secured one of L.G.’s hands in handcuffs, lifted him up to a seated position, and Gibson delivered two forceful knee strikes directly to L.G.’s face.
After reviewing the officers’ body camera videos, Krejsa knowingly authored a lengthy memorandum for MPD’s official records that contained several false statements. Specifically, Krejsa falsely implied that any force used against L.G. was justified to ensure officer safety; falsely asserted that officers used only low levels of force near the start of the incident, and escalated to higher levels of force only after less force was ineffective; falsely stated that Winkle “kneeled on [L.G.]’s left shoulder and upper body,” when in fact Krejsa knew that Winkle had used his knee to strike L.G.’s head and neck area; and falsely implied that Winkle’s uses of force against L.G. caused only cuts to L.G.’s face, when Krejsa knew that the use of force against L.G. caused serious bodily injury to L.G. As part of his plea, 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 potential investigation into the incident.
Krejsa is the fourth Muncie Police Department official to plead guilty in connection with this investigation. Krejsa was one of four MPD officers who were indicted in April 2021 in a 17-count superseding indictment for their roles in using excessive force against arrestees and/or attempting to cover up the misconduct. A fifth Muncie police officer, Dalton Kurtz, previously entered a pre-indictment guilty plea on Aug. 4, 2021, to one count of misprision of felony for concealing and failing to report inappropriate use of force by Winkle during a separate incident.
On May 13, 2022, Gibson also pleaded guilty to civil rights and obstruction charges for assaulting a different arrestee and writing a false report about the incident. On Dec. 5, 2022, Winkle pleaded guilty to eleven counts of civil rights and obstruction offenses for assaulting arrestees and writing false reports about the incidents, including the arrest of L.G. The last remaining officer is scheduled to stand trial at a later date.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers for the Southern District of Indiana, and Special Agent in Charge Herbert J. Stapleton of the FBI Indianapolis Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI Indianapolis Field Office investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Katherine G. DeVar and Mary J. Hahn of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Blackett for the Southern District of Indiana are prosecuting the case.
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