DOJ Holds Police Supervisor Accountable for Obstruction of Justice – Writing False Report to Cover Up Excessive Force by Other Officers

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Special to the Vanguard

Washington, DC – A former sergeant with the Muncie Police Department (MPD), in Muncie, Indiana, pleaded guilty Tuesday 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 August 9, 2018, Joseph Krejsa responded to the scene of an arrest involving a civilian where other MPD officers under his supervision were accused of having used excessive force that resulted in an injury to the civilian’s face.

However, on the day after the arrest, Krejsa conducted a supervisory review of the incident, during which he claimed that he had watched the videos of the incident and falsely declared those uses of force “justified.”

The supervisor a few days later asked Krejsa to conduct a more in-depth review of the officers’ uses of force during the 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 the individual in an alley way and gave several verbal commands to him—including to put his hands on his head and to get on the ground—and the subject appeared to have complied with those commands.

On the ground, as Posey held both of his hands behind his back, the man directed a verbal insult towards officers, and in response, Winkle, using his knee, dropped his bodyweight down onto his neck and head area.

The man screamed out words to the effect of, “He crushed my whole face!” and pulled his hands towards his face.

Winkle then tased the man as other MPD officers, including Officer Jeremy Gibson, arrived to assist.

Toward the end of the incident, officers secured one of his hands in handcuffs, lifted him up to a seated position, and Gibson delivered two forceful knee strikes directly to the man’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,” the DOJ said this week.

The DOJ accused Krejsa of “falsely implying that any force used against the 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 [the man]’s left shoulder and upper body,” when in fact Krejsa knew that Winkle had used his knee to strike the man’s head and neck area; and falsely implied that Winkle’s uses of force against the caused only cuts to his face, “when Krejsa knew that the use of force against [the man]’s caused serious bodily injury to [the man].”

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 the subject. The last remaining officer is scheduled to stand trial at a later date.

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