Bodycam Footage Exonerates Arresting Officer In Viral Video of Arrest at Purdue University That Set Off a Firestorm
“If anything, Purdue Officer Jon Selke ‘should be commended, not vilified’ for the way he handled a confrontation”
The arrest of a young black man at Purdue University in February was captured in a video and set off a firestorm on campus and in the media, with many people comparing it to the arrest of George Floyd.
But the viral video only told part of the story. The arresting police officer will not be charged now that investigators have had a chance to review footage from his bodycam.
In February, Purdue’s student newspaper The Exponent reported:
Purdue police controversy hits national media
Twitter is flooded with various media organization’s reporting on the controversy regarding a student who was physically held down by a Purdue police officer last Friday night. The student was later charged with disorderly conduct. He was booked at the Tippecanoe County Jail, posted bond and was released.
The story came to light this week though social media and Exponent reporting. Since then, it’s become an issue that has been covered by media organizations nationwide.
Here’s a sampling of the various media outlets’ and other interested parties’ Twitter feeds:
Purdue's Black Student Union hosted a town hall meeting, and students addressed how Officer Jon Selke of the Purdue University Police Department handled Adonis Tuggle in a police call caught on video. @AmiciaRamsey reports. https://t.co/1xlpAnNJzX
— WISH-TV (@WISH_TV) February 12, 2022
Officer Jon Selke placed on leave after Adonis Tuggle arrest video sparks outrage https://t.co/h0RbYEq6TD
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) February 11, 2022
'HE WAS SMOTHERING ME': A police officer received death threats after he was caught on video using his elbow to pin a Black student to the ground by the neck as the student yelled 'You’re choking me.' https://t.co/yHoVEIZDAj
— KSNT 27 News (@KSNTNews) February 11, 2022
There are well over a dozen more media tweets like the ones above. They were so ready to run with this narrative.
Here’s the short version of the arrest video:
The longer version, which did not go viral, makes things look quite different:
Dave Bangert, an independent journalist based in Indianapolis, set the record straight on Substack:
Special prosecutor: Purdue officer use of force justified in arrest that went viral
The scene with a Purdue police officer taking down a Black student and pinning him into a snowbank – captured on an Instagram video shared hundreds of thousands of times since February and that spurred fresh conversations about what it means to be Black on the West Lafayette campus – did not amount to excessive force, a special prosecutor said Monday.
If anything, Purdue Officer Jon Selke “should be commended, not vilified” for the way he handled a confrontation with Purdue junior Adonis Tuggle, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said after releasing findings that cleared Selke, more than two months after the incident.
On the other side, Cummings said he found reasons to charge Tuggle for resisting arrest, along with other potential crimes tied to what he called a domestic incident involving an argument between the student and his girlfriend while parked near Lynn Hall on Purdue’s south campus area the night of Feb. 4…
Cummings said Monday that Tuggle’s video – one minute taken from the altercation – was what he called a “selective” attempt to “help him evade responsibility for his behavior” to one where “suddenly the police are using unreasonable force on a Black man.”
“He shifted the whole narrative,” Cummings said. “It’s all on video, and I can tell the person responsible for that conflict is Mr. Tuggle. … What the officer did to get control of that situation was not unreasonable, particularly in light of the fact that Mr. Tuggle was not injured.”
Here’s part of a statement released by Purdue this week:
Purdue announces resolution to Feb. 4 police incident
Following a decision by the special prosecutor not to pursue charges in a Feb. 4 incident on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus, President Mitch Daniels and the Purdue Board of Trustees; Adonis Tuggle, the student involved in the incident; the Purdue University Police Department; and PUPD Officer Jon Selke jointly announced agreement on steps forward to ensure such an incident does not recur on campus.
“First, we understand and respect the prosecutor’s decision and are glad for his forbearance in not proceeding with charges against Adonis. Notwithstanding the legal considerations, we believe this was an incident that escalated too quickly in the distinctive context of our campus environment,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “We recognize this is an outcome that no member of the Purdue community should expect in light of our high aspirations for community policing at Purdue, which have the primary aim of ensuring a safe and positive experience for our students on campus. We deeply regret what happened, and we’re grateful for our community’s patience as we, alongside Adonis, Officer Jon Selke and their families, have worked to gain a better understanding of what occurred that night and a reconciliation among the parties to the incident.
“We’re proud of the fact that PUPD has no record of this type of incident occurring in the past. It was an aberration and must remain so. “Zero” is the only acceptable number of such incidents at Purdue. We’ve directed several definitive steps to reduce the chance that anything of this kind ever occurs in the future.”
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