Friday, September 22

‘You’re choking me!’: Purdue police conduct review after viral arrest video

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WXIN) – The Purdue University Police Department is responding after video of a student being arrested went viral. The incident happened Friday, Feb. 4 when police say a caller told them it appeared a woman was being held against her will near Horticulture Drive.

A video FOX59 obtained from a bystander appears to show Purdue police responding to the scene. In it, you can see a male student on the ground with a Purdue police officer on top of him. The man can be heard saying repeatedly, “You’re choking me!”

A woman can also be heard saying, “Get your elbow off his neck!”

You can see the video below. Some viewers may find it disturbing.

Purdue University crime logs show an arrest was made at 8:57 p.m. Friday in the general location of Horticulture and Harrison drives. The arrest was listed as “resisting law enforcement/dating violence.”

Purdue University Police Chief John Cox released a statement on the incident, saying in part, “Any time a PUPD officer uses force in connection with an arrest, the department conducts an internal review. PUPD commenced that review, led by Deputy Chief Lesley Wiete immediately upon receiving the officer’s report on Friday night.”

Cox says witness statements will be taken into account, as well officers’ body-worn cameras. The footage from the body-worn cameras will reportedly be made available, along with other evidence, when the review is complete.

Students said Thursday they were shocked when they saw the video.

“I was horrified,” freshman Ana Hitamirpour said.

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“It’s just tough to watch,” freshman Anna Schnefke added.

Students say with incidents like George Floyd and other cases of police violence against Black Americans, it’s sad to see it happening this close to home.

“I think people are just disappointed that this is happened once yet again and especially in our own community right here,” Schnefke added. “It’s really hard to see.”

Other students say they hope that this situation is handled properly.

“I understand the police officers have to do their job – and it is a dangerous job, so I understand,” student Tybresha Glass said. “But at the same time, I shouldn’t be walking around wondering, ‘Is it going to be me next?’”

According to Purdue police, no one was physically injured in the incident.

Thursday afternoon, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels issued the following statement:

“There are no subjects Purdue takes more seriously than campus safety, student well-being, and proper police conduct. On Friday evening, Feb. 4, police received a bystander report of a suspected assault on a woman, prompting an officer’s urgent response.  

Immediately upon learning of the use of force during our police officer’s response, we ordered an investigation, including not only the required review of the officer’s actions as is standard procedure under Purdue University Police policies, but also witness interviews and a release of all video evidence, including body-worn and in-car camera footage.

The inquiry into the police officer’s handling of the situation will be swift and thorough. As an additional step, following the internal review, the Indiana State Police will immediately commence an independent review of the PUPD investigation and video evidence. Should there be a finding of misconduct by the officer, appropriate action will be taken promptly. 

In the spirit of transparency, once the Purdue Police and Indiana State Police reviews are complete, all findings and evidence, including all video evidence from body-worn cameras, in-car camera footage, dispatch calls and witness interviews, will be made available.  

We ask for your patience as the investigation moves forward and again, will communicate findings as soon as they are available.”

Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.

The statement also said they will provide resources and support for the students involved or affected.

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The Purdue University police officer has been put on leave, due to the officer and Purdue University Police Department receiving death threats. Cox said the threats are being investigated and that the officer is on leave of absence until further notice.

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