Officer receives second chance

Patrolman left last job after criminal case

GREENFIELD — Fortville police have hired an officer who quit his last job after being charged with battery, saying the partolman’s criminal case was dropped, and he deserves another chance.

Charles Kingery, 28, of Fishers, stepped down from the Fishers Police Department in October after Johnson County prosecutors filed a misdemeanor battery charge against him following a fight; the case was later dismissed because the victim did not want to press charges, officials said.

Kingery, now an unpaid reserve officer for Fortville, admits he struck another man outside a banquet hall in Greenwood during an argument while off duty. He was arrested, but the criminal case against him was dropped about two months later, records show.

Fortville Police Maj. Pat Bratton said department leaders did their due diligence before hiring Kingery to work an estimated 24 hours a month providing assistance to the department’s nine full-time officers: they spoke with Fishers Police Department officials about Kingery’s work ethic, reviewed the officer’s criminal case in Johnson County and discussed its dismissal with prosecutors.

Prosecutors’ decision to drop the case hinged on several things, including the victim’s wishes not to move forward and Kingery’s lack of a criminal history, Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said in an email.

Attorney John Bymaster of Indianapolis, who represented the victim, confirmed his client was not interested in pursuing the case, adding that Kingery handled himself well after the incident.

“Things happen, and (Kingery) was immediately nice and very sorry,” he said.

By all accounts, Kingery is a young officer who made a poor decision, Bratton said, and he commended Kingery for being upfront with local officials about the circumstances during the hiring process.

Knauer said the department has an ongoing application process for reserve officers, so there was no direct competition for Kingery’s spot on the department. He was recommended by local officers who had worked with him in the past, Knauer said.

Kingery said he’s eager to step into this new role and is thankful to Fortville for giving him the opportunity to wear a uniform again.

He sees the opportunity to serve Fortville’s community as a second chance, he said. He’s been dreaming of being a police officer since he was a child, and he wishes he could put his mistake behind him, he said.

In October, police were called to a reception hall in downtown Greenwood where a fight had reportedly taken place. Kingery and his wife had been drinking and got into an argument, he said. When another man tried to intervene, Kingery got upset and struck the man in the face, he said.

At the time, Kingery was a full-time patrol officer for the Fishers Police Department, where he had worked since March 2014. Kingery, who was trained at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield, has not worked full time for any other law enforcement agency. Kingery had no disciplinary record in Fishers apart from the temporary paid suspension he was placed on during the internal investigation last fall, records show; he resigned before any disciplinary action was taken.

Fishers police officials declined to comment on Kingery’s new position with Fortville.

Kingery said he accepts responsibility for what he did last fall. Fortville Police Chief Bill Knauer said Kingery expressed great remorse for what had happened during his interview with the department.

After speaking to Kingery and being assured by Johnson County officials that the case would not be reopened, Knauer said he saw no reason not to hire Kingery for the reserve force, which serves as a valuable backup for full-timers, he said.

Though reserves do not collect a paycheck from the town, they have the same responsibilities and police powers as the department’s full-time officers. Before hitting the road on their own, they complete 40 hours of classroom training, including lessons on emergency response protocols and investigations standards, as well as field training, including firearm safety.

Though reserve officer hires do not need to be approved by town officials, Knauer said he sought input from the Fortville Police Commission and the Fortville Town Council president and attorney about the matter. They supported his decision, Knauer said.

“We looked into this as deep and as hard as we possibly could,” Knauer said. “I want to serve this community in the best way I can, and bringing Charlie Kingery on board is not detrimental to that.”

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.