Gary police officers charged with misconduct

March 6, 2008 3:35:10 PM PST
Three of Gary's top cops surrendered to U.S. marshals Thursday morning. The men were indicted amid allegations they violated the civil rights of four people after the police chief's home was burglarized.

The Gary Police chief is accused of slapping and punching a pregnant woman in the stomach and kicking a handcuffed man while he was in police custody. All this allegedly happened when the Gary Police chief was angry because someone had broken into his house.

Three Gary Police officers went to federal court Thursday accused of violating civil rights of several Gary residents by keeping them in jail longer than the legal limit. Those accused include Gary's police chief, Thomas Houston, deputy chief Thomas Branson, and Sergeant Thomas Decanter.

"We are going to vigorously and thoroughly maintain the reputation of this excellent, excellent officer," said Scott King, attorney for Deputy Chief Branson.

"He did not abuse anyone, no one, no how. Thank you," said Tom Vanes, attorney for Sgt. Decanter.

"I'm concerned because the federal indictment of our three top police officers, that have been doing a tremendous job in their tenure as policemen," said Rudy Clay, Gary mayor.

Melissa Manley says her daughter, who was pregnant, and other family members were beaten by police at their home.

"I didn't know why they're doing that, you know? Why they come in my home and doing all this. They said we stole a lot of stuff," said Manley.

Manly says they were staying at a Gary home on June 1 when, she says, the police chief ordered the beatings and made threats, trying to find out who ransacked his house.

"He said to everybody, we should be in jail. And he said he thought we should get out of town or he would come back and blow up my house," said Marie Manley.

Marie says her boyfriend was among those beaten and held by police.

"They had a victim on one couch kicking him in the face and beating him, and then another cop kicking her around like a rag doll, and they had my boyfriend on the floor, they had their guns out," Marie said.

At the Gary Police Department, we're told that operations are normal. Although, inside the police department, we're told that they are disappointed with these indictments.

The three officers who were indicted were on the job Thursday. They were released on unsecured bond and they were allowed to keep their weapons.