BEDFORD - (March 7, 2022) - Details emerge following the arrest of former Bedford Police Captain Morgan Lee who was arrested over the weekend for official misconduct, Level 6 - Felony, Strangulation, Level 6 Felony, and Battery Class B misdemeanor.
(Former Bedford Police Officer Morgan Lee)
Morgan Lee turned himself in at 6:40 p.m. Friday evening.
Indiana State Police investigation was launched following a citizen complaint, who accused officer Morgan Lee of battery at the request of Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore.
Special Prosecutor Christopher Gaal has been assigned to prosecute the case for the State of Indiana.
The investigation began on August 2, 2021, with Indiana State Police Detective Brock Warne of the Jasper State Police Post was assigned to the case.
Bedford Police responded to a domestic dispute in the 500 block of H Street at 12:08 a.m. on January 8, 2021, when the alleged incident took place.
The following information was obtained by a probable cause affidavit detailing the events on January 8, 2021, and interview with former Bedford Police Officer Morgan Lee on August 9, 2021, with investigators, and the alleged victim.
The victim alleges that officer Lee pushed him with his throat between his hand and the floor. According to the victim, he suffered contusions to his back of his head, and there were video of the incident.
The video and body camera footage were reviewed by investigators. Video taken in the kitchen of the residence shows dialogue between both Lee and the victim in the video.
The video shows the victim wrapping his bleeding finger with paper towels. The video shows officer Lee lunging towards the victim. At the same time; it showed Lee extending his hands towards the refrigerator.
The victim can be heard saying " What are you going to do beat me in my own (expletive) house" Lee is then seen pushing the victim down to the kitchen floor. While on the floor with Officer Lee on top of him, the victim's hands were visible out to his side. The victim said, " Choke me out as long as you (expletive) want (expletive), " Lee then got off the victim.
Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore provided the Indiana State Police with additional information along with officer body camera video and interviews with officers involved in the incident.
Former Officer Lee and his attorney Ed Merchant, met at the Jasper Police Post on August 9, 2021, for an interviews. According to that interview Officer Lee stated he responded to the victim's residence on a report of a domestic dispute between the victim and his girlfriend. The victim cut his finger and Officer Lee was concerned that the victim needed medical attention.
According to Lee based on his observation and experience he believed the victim to be intoxicated, however a portable breath test was not administered. Lee approached the victim in a way to tell the victim he needed to show some respect. According to Lee he was spit on by the victim. Lee then made physical contact by tripping and taking him to the ground, so that Lee was not spit upon again. Lee laid on top of the victim for a few seconds until the victim calmed down.
Lee denies choking or punching the victim, when asked if the victim purposely spit on him, or by accident. Lee stated at the time it happened he assumed it was on purpose because the manner it occurred.
The victim was never arrested in the incident. When asked about why the victim was never arrested for battery on a police officer as a felony. Lee told investigators that he would have had to sit at the hospital due to the victim's need for medical treatment for his finger and state of intoxication. Lee told investigators that was the best course of action. Lee stated he was spit on before and taken anyone to jail. They were already in a tense situation and trying to put the victim in cuffs would have created a fight. Lee told investigators by not arresting the victim was cutting everyone a break.
Lee was asked about Bedford Police Department policy regarding a arrest after a police officer goes physical goes hands on with a person. Lee explained he used discretion in making the decision not to arrest and was unaware of the policy requiring arrest after an officer goes "hands on "with a person.
According to Lee he stated that he seen video of the incident and if he had been looking to do it all over he would not have had his arms hooked into his vest. Officer Lee was asked why his body camera went off during the encounter, and Lee told investigators he did not know why, stated that it does not take much to slide it off. Lee told investigators that he realized the camera was off when he was outside talking to the girlfriend, and it shut off again.
According to Indiana State Police investigation; a written statement and interview with the victim describing the incident consistent with what appeared on the video. The victim told investigators that when Officer Lee violently slammed him against the floor of the kitchen it caused back of the victim's head to hit the floor and caused pain. Officer Lee held the victim against the ground with his body weight and applied it to the victim's neck and throat with his forearm or hand restricting his breathing and causing pain, and fear that Lee was going to strangle him unconscious. According to the victim Officer Lee then pushed up his body up and off of the victim placing his weight on his throat, as if doing a push up. Officer Lee then went outside, and the victim was not arrested.
According to the probable cause affidavit no spitting was evident in the body camera or home security footage of the incident. According to the report Lee could be seen lunging towards the victim, until Officer Lee's nose is just inches away from the victim's face. Officer Lee places his hand on the victim's chest and pushes the victim back toward the refrigerator.
Officer Lee then pushes the victim to the floor and gets on top of the victim.
BEDFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT HANDLING OF THE SITUATION
Captain Morgan Lee resigned from the Bedford Police Department in August 2021 after an internal investigation revealed that several department rules and regulations were violated.
Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore provided the Bedford Board of Works and Safety a timeline of events the led up to the investigation. Bedford Police Chief Moore received the complaint on June 8, 2021, from the January 8, 2021, incident.
On June 9, 2021, Captain Lee was advised by Chief Moore in a written letter that he was mentioned in the complaint and that a internal investigation would be launched into any violations of department rules and criminal law violations.
On June 21, 2021, after Captain Lee returned from a planned vacation, he was informed in writing that he would be placed on paid administrative leave as the department worked through the investigation.
On June 25, 2021, the Board of Works met in a special meeting to discuss the complaint and voted to place Captain Lee on paid administrative leave.
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On July 8, 2021, Chief Moore met with Captain Lee and discussed the investigation that determined several rules and regulations were violated.
" I served Captain Lee notice of formal disciplinary charges which included each department procedure that was violated and recommendation to the department executive board for termination," said Chief Moore " I also informed him in a written letter a hearing date was scheduled following state law and he had five days to respond in writing if he wished to have a hearing in front of Board of Works and Safety,"
Chief Moore received a letter the next day from Lee's attorney requesting a hearing. Chief Moore then notified Bedford City Attorney Greg Pittman of the hearing request A hearing was scheduled for July 30, 2021.
On July 29, 2021, Chief Moore received a resignation letter from Captain Lee, stating he wanted to pursue another career and job opportunities. Captain Lee wanted his resignation to go in effect on August 6, 2021.
In a statement prepared during the Bedford Board of Works and Safety, " The Bedford Police Department takes all citizens complaints seriously. Complaints are investigated and dealt with accordingly. I wish Captain Morgan Lee well in his new career opportunity," stated Chief Moore.
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