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Monday, September 22, 2008

[IN] Chief of Detectives Clark not arrested, not charged (Is his wife okay? Who's checking?)

Chief of Detectives for the Shelby County Sheriff's Department - Detective Cpt. Roger Clark - "allegedly" drove his unmarked police car while intoxicated to the Shelbyville home of an investigator for the Rush County Public Defender's Office, Justin Kerr and punched him in the face presuming he was having an affair with his wife - then took off. The responding officer took pictures of the Kerr's face. Shortly after an officer responded to Kerr's house, other officers were dispatched to Clark's home for a domestic incident reportedly taking place there as well... (Is she okay?)

...Kerr said he believes Clark is getting special treatment because he has not been arrested. When city police officers responded to the domestic disturbance at Clark's home, Kerr said that Clark should have been arrested at that time [also]...

If Clark can punch an investigator in the face repeatedly, knocking him to the ground, leaving Kerr with a face police think is worth photographing, and is not being charged or arrested - what chance does Clark's wife have of finding protection? Where would she think she could call?

Breaks my heart.
Is it better left alone or out in the open? Who can predict, especially where alcohol is allegedly involved? No one.

Chief of county detectives under investigation
Shelbyville News, IN
Bettina Puckett

A spokesman for the Indiana State Police confirmed Wednesday that the chief of detectives for the Shelby County Sheriff's Department is under investigation regarding an allegation of battery.

Detective Capt. Roger Clark, a Shelbyville resident, has been suspended with pay while two investigations - an external probe by the state police and an internal probe by the sheriff's department - are conducted. Authorities are trying to learn what happened on Sept. 3 when Clark allegedly drove his unmarked police car to the Shelbyville home of an investigator named Justin Kerr and allegedly punched him in the face.

Although Clark is under suspension, he has not been charged with a crime.

"I can confirm for you that the Indiana State Police is conducting a criminal investigation," said 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten, a state police spokesman.

"The title of that investigation is battery," Bursten said. "I'm not able to discuss any other specifics related to the ongoing investigation. I can tell you that we anticipate it being completed within 30 days - hopefully less than that. And when we are finished, it will submitted to a prosecuting authority for their review and decision of what action, if any, they deem appropriate."

Kerr, 26, works as an investigator with the Rush County Public Defender's Office. For nearly five years, Kerr worked for attorney Bryan Barrett in his private practice in Shelbyville. Barrett now also works for Rush County as a full-time public defender.

Kerr provided The Shelbyville News with a copy of a Shelby County Sheriff's Department report that he obtained from Maj. David Tilford, the department's chief deputy who is conducting the internal investigation.

Events of Sept. 3

According to the report, Kerr called a sheriff's department dispatcher at 1:10 a.m. on Sept. 3 to report that Clark had come to his Shelbyville home and hit him in the face. "He was very upset and wanted to speak to an officer in charge and file charges," said the report filed by Sgt. James H. Lacy.

Kerr said that he had been friends with Clark and his wife, [A.C.], for about 10 years, but that Clark had recently accused Kerr and [A.C.] of having an affair, according to the police report.

On the evening of Sept. 2, Kerr was in the lounge at Cagney's, 33 E. Broadway St., with some friends and said that [A.C.] was there with some of her friends. "They had spoken and decided to go to [A.C.]'s house and speak with Roger and get everything worked out because Roger still believed they were having an affair," Lacy said in the report.

After Kerr and [A.C.] drove their separate vehicles back to her house, she came back outside and said that now was not a good time because Clark was not in a good mood. At that point, Kerr drove alone to his parents house.

"When he pulled in the drive and parked in front of the barn, he stated Roger pulled in behind his truck at a high rate of speed and that [A.C.] arrived a short time later and pulled in behind Roger," the report said.

Kerr said that Clark approached him while he was still sitting in his truck with his window down. "(Kerr) stated that, without saying anything, Roger then punched him in the left side of his face," the report said. "He stated he exited the car and asked Roger what the hell his problem was and that Roger struck him once, and maybe twice, knocking him down on the grass on the south side of the driveway."

Kerr said that [A.C.] was yelling at her husband to stop, and Roger Clark then took off, driving north. Kerr also claimed that Roger Clark "was drunk" while driving his unmarked police car.

Evidence collected

Lacy said that he took digital photos of the injury to Kerr's face. "I had also activated my in-car camera and belt microphone prior to arrival at the residence," Lacy wrote in the report.

Lacy called Tilford at home to talk to him about the incident. Lacy said he was also aware that officers with the Shelbyville Police Department had been dispatched to Clark's house on a reported domestic disturbance a short time after Lacy was dispatched to the battery call.

Tilford instructed Lacy to contact either the Shelbyville Police Department or the state police to take over the case as an independent investigation by another agency.

When contacted by phone on Wednesday, Clark declined comment. "I can't talk about it," Clark said.

Clark referred questions to his attorney, Jay Hoffman, of the Franklin law firm, Hoffman, Admire & Newcomb. Hoffman said that he has known Clark for a few years. "I know him to be a good man," Hoffman said.

Hoffman had not seen the police report, but he said he was aware an incident took place. "Whatever law enforcement (agency) investigated it, if they had probable cause to make an arrest that night, they would have made an arrest," Hoffman said. "I have strong feelings about that."

Kerr said that he has not hired an attorney in the case, but he gave a statement to Hoffman after Hoffman requested one.

'Big mess'

"It's a big mess, but it's really very simple," Kerr said. "If I did anything inappropriate, I would take my lumps and go on down the road."

But Kerr maintains that he did nothing wrong. He also said that he did not fight back when Clark allegedly struck him. "If I did anything at all, they would have arrested me on the spot," Kerr said.

"They believe the rules don't apply to them, and I believe they should and they do," Kerr said. "It's just not right. They are not going to run over me."

Kerr said that he would have been satisfied with an apology from Clark and an offer to pay his medical expenses. But Clark did not apologize, and Kerr said he felt like Lacy was treating him like a suspect. "(Lacy) wanted to give me a (portable breath test), even though I was on my own property drinking a beer," said Kerr, who said he was not drunk.

Kerr said he believes Clark is getting special treatment because he has not been arrested. When city police officers responded to the domestic disturbance at Clark's home, Kerr said that Clark should have been arrested at that time.

But Hoffman, who has represented more than 100 police officers, disagreed. He said the matter will not be swept under the rug. "Law enforcement officers always investigate with vehemence and vigor other law enforcement officers - not because they are headhunting or because they want to take somebody's badge - but because of public perception and transparency," Hoffman said.

Hoffman said that Clark is a 20-year veteran. "He has done nothing but spectacularly serve the citizens of Shelby County," Hoffman said.

"Collectively, we as a society, need to take a step back," Hoffman said. "Let the state police complete their investigation, and if they think charges should be brought, let them be brought."

1 comment:

  1. This investigation led no where. No criminal charges were filed. Sadly this is only one of many misconduct cases handled in a similar manner in Shelby County. That's why we started up the website www.shelbyjustice.org so citizens would have and place to share such information.


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