Feds charge ex-Indiana officer over three violent arrests

Posted at 3:35 PM, July 12, 2022 and last updated 3:50 PM, July 14, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Federal prosecutors have charged a former eastern Indiana police officer with civil rights violations, alleging that he used excessive force during three arrests, including by kicking a man in the head and shooting another with beanbags from close range.

The U.S. Attorney’s office announced Friday that former New Castle police officer Aaron J. Strong has been indicted on three counts of “deprivation (of civil rights) under color of law” and a single count of witness tampering.

According to the charging documents, Strong, 44, kicked a man “in and about the head” during an arrest on July 12, 2017, The (Muncie) Star Press reported. On the same day, he used a beanbag shotgun to shoot another man “at close range” in the back during an arrest, prosecutors allege.

The federal grand jury that indicted Strong found that both of those incidents took place “without legal justification” and resulted in injuries to both men.

The third incident Strong was indicted for stemmed from a 2019 arrest in which he allegedly used an expandable baton to repeatedly strike a man who had reportedly already surrendered. That man later filed a federal lawsuit accusing Strong of hitting him more than 20 times with the baton, resulting in injuries to his “head, jaw, arms and back.”

The 2019 encounter also led to Strong’s conviction, in March 2020, on a misdemeanor count of criminal recklessness.

Strong’s attorney, Guy Relford, didn’t immediately reply to a Tuesday phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Strong was a lieutenant in the New Castle Police Department when he resigned in December 2019.