A Chicago, Illinois, man attacked an Elkhart, Indiana, police officer on July 3 after he was told to get out of the street. The officer was pushed to the ground and pummeled in the face, resulting in hospitalization for the officer.
Cpl. Dustin Young noticed the man standing in the middle of the street on the 100 block of West Garfield and asked that he move to the sidewalk instead of blocking traffic. Reese Tommy Haithcox cursed at the officer and refused to leave the street. Cpl. Young exited his car and requested identification from Reese Haithcox. Haithcox refused and a verbal altercation erupted, which ended in Cpl. Young being shoved to the ground and pummeled in the face at least 15 times. Haithcox attempted to grab Cpl. Young’s gun at one point. Cpl. Young was able to call for backup during the struggle. An influx of officers arrived on the scene, where Haithcox attempted to run, but was quickly tackled and apprehended by officers.
When backup officers arrived on the scene, neighbors cheered on the beating and protested the intervention of the officers. Although the scene was tense, officers kept their cool and attempted to defuse the situation.
According to the neighbors, Haithcox was not doing anything wrong other than crossing the street. Although jaywalking is a crime in Indiana, it is not a harshly punishable offense. By telling Haithcox to move back to the sidewalk, Cpl. Young was simply warning him rather than issuing a ticket. If Haithcox would not have reacted with aggression, the situation could have been avoided.
According to the police report:
“Cpl. Young grabbed the male by the arm and the male physically resisted and pushed Cpl. Young the the ground. The male got on top of Cpl. Young and began throwing punches and striking him in the face at least 15 times fracturing his left orbital socket,”
A local resident, Adrianna Wilson, explained the apprehension of Haithcox to NewsCenter 16’s reporting partner:
“They chased the boy, tased the boy, was on the boy’s back as they handcuffed him,”
She went on to say:
“There’s a way to talk to people, you talk to people the way you want to be talk to. I turned back around and he had Officer Young on the ground, he was trying to get away from Officer Young,”
In the days following the incident, there has been a heavier police presence in the area. Residents have complained if an increase in the number if citations given during the following days. They have voiced outrage over tickets for riding a bicycle without a bell (an Indiana law), jaywalking, and failure to use a sidewalk. According to police, the three citations were the only ones given in the Garfield area of Elkhart out of the 70 they have given out in July.
[Photo Courtesy: Elkhart Truth]