GARY — Lake County prosecutors dropped charges last week against a man who wound up in jail last year after taking a video, which later went viral, of a then-Gary police officer arresting a woman outside a city gas station.
Andre James, of Hammond, was charged with four counts of misdemeanor resisting law enforcement after an encounter July 11 with former Gary Officer Terry Peck.
In the video, James can be heard asking Peck why he was being rough with the woman and if Peck was going to "break her arm."
After James' video circulated widely on social media, Gary police issued a statement that the officer involved was on leave.
Police Chief Brian Evans also told The Times last summer his officers have no right to privacy, should expect to be recorded and are trained on that policy.
The Gary Police Civil Service Commission accepted Evans' recommendation and voted last year to fire Peck for a different allegation of police brutality, which involved a man who suffered a chipped tooth when Peck slammed his face into the back of a patrol car during a traffic stop March 19, 2019, in Gary. The commission upheld Peck's firing in January, following Peck's appeal.
Prosecutors wrote in a motion to dismiss James' charges they lacked evidence to prove the case.
Gary City Court Judge Deidre Monroe ordered the charges dismissed without prejudice, which means prosecutors could refile them at a later date.
James' attorney, Michael A. Campbell, said he and his client were happy to see justice prevail.
"We maintained all along that the video speaks for itself, and that Mr. James did nothing wrong. All he did was exercise his First Amendment right to film the police, and he spoke up when he saw what he believed to be an abuse of power by a now former Gary police officer," Campbell said. "As difficult as this whole situation has been for Mr. James, we want to commend the Lake County prosecutor's office for their thorough review of the case and ultimate dismissal."
James said during a news conference last summer he was getting gas about 1 a.m. July 11 when a woman pulled into the parking lot and started yelling about someone following her.
Peck arrived shortly afterward and never identified himself as a Gary police officer, James said.
In the video, the woman looks at James as Peck holds her arms behind her back and says, "Don't you leave me here."
Gary City Court records partially handwritten by Peck alleged James "interfered with the arrest of a reckless driver." Peck also wrote James backed away and told Peck not to touch him when Peck attempted to arrest him, refused to be placed in handcuffs and refused to provide his identification.
James suffered an injury to his finger during his arrest, Campbell said.
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