A former police officer with the Elkhart Police Department, Joshua Titus, 34, was sentenced today to one year and one day in federal prison followed by one year of supervised release for his role in assaulting a handcuffed detainee in his custody.
On Dec. 8, 2022, Titus’s co-defendant, former Elkhart Police Officer Cory Newland, 40, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for his role in the same offense. Titus and Newland were both sentenced by District Court Judge Phillip P. Simon in the Northern District of Indiana after pleading guilty to their respective roles in the assault.
“When officers abuse their power by assaulting handcuffed and defenseless arrestees, it erodes the public trust and tarnishes the reputation police officers everywhere,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “No one is above the law, and the Justice Department will continue to ensure that officers who violate the rights of individuals in their custody are held accountable.”
“To have effective law enforcement, the public must be confident that the officers will perform their duties consistently, within the boundaries of the constitution and federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Clifford D. Johnson for the Northern District of Indiana. “Instead of honoring their duties by protecting and serving the public, these defendants engaged in criminal behavior. When this happens, my office will fulfill our duties by vigorously prosecuting those officers.”
“The majority of law enforcement officers are well trained professionals who uphold their oath to serve and protect and do so with the utmost integrity. But the few who violate that oath and betray public trust will be held accountable,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert “Alex” Middleton of the FBI Indianapolis Field Office. “There is no acceptable level of abuse of power and the FBI will vigorously investigate those officers who violate that oath.”
According to court documents, on Jan. 12, 2018, while on duty, Newland assisted in the arrest of an individual identified by the initials M.L. and transported him to the booking area at the police department. Once at the police department, M.L. was placed in a chair with his hands handcuffed behind his back, with both arms behind the back of the chair. While seated in the chair, M.L. spat in the direction of Newland, at which point both Titus and Newland began punching M.L. in the face, causing him to fall backwards onto the concrete floor. Titus and Newland then hunched over M.L. and punched him approximately 10 more times in the face and body. Both former officers have acknowledged that they knew at the time of the assault that their use of force on M.L. was unjustified and unlawful under the circumstances.
The FBI Indianapolis Field Office investigated this case.
Trial Attorney Katherine G. DeVar of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and General Crimes Unit Chief Abizer Zanzi for the Northern District of Indiana prosecuted the case.