A Lafayette, Indiana, police officer who shoved a wheelchair-bound man so hard that he toppled over onto the road received only a 30-day suspension, though many in his department and the town’s mayor wanted to see him fired.
Recently released video from the incident, which occurred last October, shows Lafayette police Lt. Tom Davidson giving a hard two-handed push to Nicholas Kincade, a 25 year-old man confined to a motorized wheelchair, reports the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
The video was released Tuesday in response to a public records request.
The scene unfolded after Davidson and other police officers were called to a charter school after employees there claimed that Kincade told them he had a gun. Police searched Kincade, but only found a knife that the man said he carries for protection.
Kincade left the premises after being told that he could be charged with trespassing.
“The subject was complying at that point in doing what we’d asked him to do,” Lafayette police chief Patrick Flannelly said, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
But as Kincade was leaving, he drove his wheelchair over Davidson’s foot. Kincade later said he did not see the officer, but Davidson saw it differently at the time.
The video shows Davidson giving an aggressive two-handed shove to an area between Kincade’s upper shoulder and head.
Trapped in his chair, Kincade simply tipped over and spilled into the road. As Kincade was falling, other officers at the scene made a slight attempt to catch the falling man. Davidson moved towards Kincade as well, seemingly unhampered from Kincade’s chair driving over his foot.
Two of the officers immediately handcuffed Kincade as he was on the ground saying “now you’re going to jail.”
Kincade suffered abrasions to his head and was charged with battery of a law enforcement officer, though his charges were dropped five months later.
Donnelley and others within the department felt that Davidson should have been terminated.
“In this case, it was determined by the Command Staff that force applied in this incident was outside our training and policy,” Flannelly said in a statement, according to WXIN.
He said that while Davidson’s reaction may have been “reflexive” after Kincade’s wheelchair ran over his foot, “it was a use of force that should have never occurred in the first place. The officer should have avoided the path of the wheelchair.”
Lafayette mayor Tony Roswarski said at a press conference on Tuesday that he agreed that Davidson should have been fired.
But a five-person commission, made up of civilians, voted 3-2 that Davidson’s shove was a legitimate response to resistance from Kincade.
The commission did agree that Davidson’s behavior was unbecoming an officer.
He was given a 30-day unpaid suspension and placed on supervisory probation for a year, though he has already served the suspension and is currently on limited duty.