City of Indianapolis v. Ingram

Decision Date15 June 1978
Docket NumberNo. 2-476A128,2-476A128
Citation176 Ind.App. 645,377 N.E.2d 877
PartiesCITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, Appellant (Defendant below), v. William INGRAM, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

David R. Frick, Corp. Counsel, Indianapolis, for appellant.

William L. Soards, Soards & Carroll, Paul G. Roland, Rex P. Killian, Ruckelshaus, Bobbitt & O'Connor, Indianapolis, for appellee.

BUCHANAN, Chief Judge.

ON REHEARING

Our previous unpublished opinion handed down October 27, 1977, which has been modified, is hereby ordered to be published.

CASE SUMMARY

The City of Indianapolis (City) claims numerous errors in the judgment of the trial court reversing a decision of the Indianapolis Police Merit Board (the Board) which dismissed William Ingram (Ingram) from the Indianapolis Police force.

We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

FACTS

Ingram, an Indianapolis police officer, was involved in an arrest which resulted in his being charged with brutality and the violation of various other police department regulations. 1 After reviewing the incident both the Indianapolis Police Chief and Board of Captains recommended that Ingram be dismissed.

On November 20, 1974, the Indianapolis Police Merit Board (the Board) held a lengthy hearing to consider the charges against Ingram. At that hearing several witnesses testified Ingram had used excessive force in making an arrest, which testimony was contradicted by Ingram and other witnesses who testified in his behalf. It was uncontradicted that he had twice failed to appear at court hearings regarding this arrest and that charges against the prisoners had been dismissed.

At the conclusion of the hearing a Board member made the following statement:

Fred Wilson (board member): "The Merit Board, by the majority vote, finds Officer Ingram guilty of all charges, and we hereby order his dismissal from the Indianapolis Police Department."

This decision was not put in writing at the time, although the Deputy City Attorney indicated he would do so at a later time.

On November 27, 1974, Ingram filed suit in Marion Superior Court seeking a review "de novo" of his termination, and a court order reinstating him on the Indianapolis Police Force. The City objected claiming the trial court did not have statutory authority to hear the matter de novo.

On October 1, 1975, a hearing was held in which the trial court heard some of the same witnesses who had testified at the Board hearing. At the hearing the City introduced the following document into evidence:

                    BEFORE THE INDIANAPOLIS POLICE MERIT BOARD
                IN THE MATTER OF WILLIAM   )
                                           )   DISCIPLINARY HEARING
                INGRAM, POLICE OFFICER.    )
                                             FINDING AND DECISION
                                             --------------------
                

The above matter having initially come for hearing before the Board on

February 6, 1975, at 4:30 o'clock p. m. and then continued until February 25,

1975, at 4:00 o'clock p. m., by way of referral of the Chief of Police of

Indianapolis and concurrence of the Board of Captains to the Merit Board with

the recommendation of the Chief that Officer Ingram be discharged from the

Indianapolis Police Department.

The charges upon which Officer Ingram was suspended September 5, 1974,

were for the violation of Sections 6.00 and 27.00 of the Rules and

Regulations Manual of the Indianapolis Police Department. After the charges

were read to Officer Ingram, he pleaded not guilty to all charges and Officer

Ingram's attorney, Paul Roland, requested that the charges be dismissed. The

Board overruled the request for dismissal.

The evidence before the Board included the testimony of Lt. Tim Martin,

Lt. Frank Otto, Lt. Reed Moistner and Sgt. Clarence Grant of the Indianapolis

Police Department as well as Richard Leslie, Roy Davis and Joe Whitney, who

were witnesses called by the City, and Officer Ray Schaefer, who was called

by Officer Ingram and Officer Ingram, who testified in his own behalf.

At the conclusion of the City's evidence, the Board overruled a motion for

dismissal of the charges and for reinstatement made by counsel for Officer

Ingram.

After hearing the evidence and being duly advised in the premises, the

Board found:

1. That Sections 6.00 and 27.00 of the Rules and Regulations of the

Indianapolis Police Department read as follows:

                       SECTION 6.00:                  All officers shall be truthful when
                                                      testifying, making reports, and
                                                      conducting all police business
                       SECTION 27.00:                 All officers of the department who
                                                      recover or come into the possession
                                                      custody or control of any lost, stolen
                                                      seized or abandoned property including
                                                      money, shall be held responsible to
                                                      properly secure and handle such property
                                                      or money in conformity with the law and
                                                      the established procedure of the
                                                      department
                

2. That the above rules and regulations were in full force and effect at

all times involved herein.

3. That Officer Ingram was not guilty of violating either of the above

Sections of said rules.

IT IS THEREFORE the decision of the Police Merit Board by majority vote

that the decision of the Chief of Police and the board of Captains is hereby

overruled and reversed and that Officer William Ingram shall be and he is

hereby ordered reinstated to the Indianapolis Police Department, subject to

the final determination of his previous discharge from the department.

(emphasis supplied)

INDIANAPOLIS POLICE MERIT BOARD

The signatures of all members of the Merit Board were affixed to this document. However, the parties assume, and for the limited purposes of this appeal we assume, the decision of the Board considered by the trial court was the decision announced by the Board member, Fred Wilson, at the conclusion of the hearing on November 20, 1974.

After hearing the evidence, reading the transcript of the Board hearing of November 20, 1974, the trial court then made the following findings and judgment:

1. That the plaintiff, William Ingram, was a police officer of the City of Indianapolis, Indiana, on the night of June 13, 1974, on duty, and participating in a lawful arrest.

2. That during and after such lawful arrest one of the two persons arrested, Michael Bennett and Thomas Finch, made allegations of improper police procedure against the plaintiff, Ingram.

3. That the complainants' Bennett and Finch testimony of the conduct of the arrest procedure vary considerably.

4. That the complainant Michael Bennett, at the time of such arrest, was an admitted felon.

5. That two other police officers, R. C. Green and Armaund Robinson, participated in the circumstances of the arrest of Bennett, Finch, Norman Woodford and Henry Perkins.

6. That plaintiff, William Ingram, did not participate in any of the activity involving the arrestees, Woodford and Perkins.

7. That the Board heard evidence against the said Ingram and Officer R. C. Green in the same hearings.

8. That Officer R. C. Green was given a six (6) month suspension as a result of the Board's findings and that plaintiff Ingram was terminated, and that the application of such dissimilar penalties, as applied to the plaintiff Ingram constitutes a violation of equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

9. That the Board, at the time of its hearings, was improperly constituted in that it did not have an attorney, admitted to and engaged in the general practice of law in this state as one of its members.

10. That the City of Indianapolis, by its Corporation Counsel, in a memorandum of agreement in the case of Brewer v. City of Indianapolis, (1975), U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, has admitted that Indianapolis Police Department Rules 6.00 and 21.00 are unconstitutional.

11. That Indianapolis Police Department Rule 31 is unconstitutional on its face.

12. That the finding and decision of the Police Merit Board (defendant's Exhibit A) has no relationship to the hearings of the Board as set out in the transcript of the record submitted to the Court.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

1. That the law is with the plaintiff and against the defendant.

2. That the evidence upon which the Police Merit Board of the City of Indianapolis acted in its decision to terminate the services of the plaintiff was devoid of probative value.

3. That the quantum of legitimate evidence adduced against the plaintiff Ingram at said hearings was so proportionately meager that it leads only to the conclusion that the finding of the Board did not rest upon a rational basis.

4. That the plaintiff William Ingram was denied due process of law.

5. That the finding and decision of the Board was contrary to constitutional right, power and privilege.

6. That the finding and decision of the Board was unsupported by substantial evidence.

JUDGMENT

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREE that the finding and decision of the Police Merit Board of the City of Indianapolis, Indiana be and is hereby vacated and that this cause is hereby remanded to the Indianapolis Police Merit Board for rehearing by a properly constituted Board in accordance with I.C.1971 (18-4-12-17), and,

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the City of Indianapolis, Indiana be and they are hereby ordered to pay to the plaintiff William Ingram all sums due him as salary and wages from and after the date of his suspension by Chief Kenneth Hale on the charges upon which he was tried by said Board, up to and including the 1st day of October, 1975, and that said City of Indianapolis, Indiana continue to pay the said Ingram said salary up to and including the...

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