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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Question? Why Did Bedford Police Not Charge Former IU Police Officer with Aggressive Driving

BEDFORD - MAY 22, 2023 - Lawrence County Zephyr has looked into the Indiana Code following the video footage of Bedford Police Department arrest of Jeremy Small, Mitchell, Indiana back into October 2022.

Photo: Former IU Health Police Officer looks on as a Bedford Police Officer speaks with Jeremy Small who was arrested. There is no record of B.J. Fulkerson being cited by Bedford Police Department for reckless driving

Lawrence County Zephyr has looked into criminal act or traffic code violation of brake checking, after former IU Health Police Officer Fulkerson admitted to committing the act in the video footage.

In addition, Lawrence County Zephyr is looking into whether Small's Constitutional Rights under the Fourth Amendment was violated after Small was placed in a Bedford police car without Small being told he was under arrest.

In the video, there is no video footage of where Small who should have been given a Miranda Warning prior to or being placed in the police car.

All police officers and public officials take an oath of office which says they will uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Video: On October 6, 2022 Jeremy Small was arrested by Bedford Police for resisting arrest and failure to identify. However, after former IU Health Police Officer openly admits to brake checking Mr. Small, Bedford Police does not cite or arrest Fulkerson for Aggressive Driving

Small was arrested by the Bedford Police Department on October 6,2022 for resisting arrest, and failure to identify. Partial body camera footage of the incident was released into social media over the weekend by a YouTube group " Official Misconduct".

However, what is not seen in the video is the Bedford Police Department charging former IU Health Police Officer B.J. Fulkerson with reckless driving by Indiana Code.

The former IU Health Police Officer B.J. Fulkerson admitted to brake checking Small while traveling on Indiana State Road 37. Fulkerson called 911 into the Bedford Police Department; who then responded to the Lowe's parking lot to confront and then arrest Small for the charges. However, Small was not arrested or cited for any traffic violations according to court records.

The body camera footage worn by the police officers was muted throughout Small's encounter with the Bedford Police Department. Small was placed in the Bedford Police vehicle with the officer closing the door on Small who asked, " What I am being arrested for,". Bedford Police Officer responded, " We will figure that out," which brings up whether Small constitutional rights of illegal detainment or kidnapping was committed by the officers involved.

Five days later, on October 11, 2022, Lawrence County Superior Court II Judge Bob Cline stated that he found probable cause for the arrest of Small.

In another video, Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore told Small he needed to file a complaint with the Indiana State Police to investigate the incident.

However, the public is asking why Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore did not ask for an investigation by the Indiana State Police on his own based his own findings.

Bedford Police Chief Moore has previously asked for an investigation to be launched on past incidents where laws or official misconduct may have occurred.

In addition, Lawrence County Zephyr has learned that former IU Health Police Officer B.J. Fulkerson wife, Christa Fulkerson is a caseworker in the Office of Lawrence County Prosecutor Samuel Arp II.

What Is Brake Checking?

Brake checking occurs when a motorist intentionally slams on their brakes to startle, irritate, or intimidate the driver behind them. The driver on the receiving end of a brake check is typically forced to brake suddenly or swerve into a neighboring lane to avoid causing a rear-end collision.

In many cases, the rear driver does not have enough time or distance to maneuver and collides with the vehicle ahead of them. Traffic behind the brake check victim might also be unable to stop in time. That can lead to frustrating scenarios where both parties claim they were wronged and dispute who is actually at fault. Here are the top reasons drivers brake check other drivers:

  • Road rage –Aggressive drivers will often use brake checking to irritate or frustrate others on the road. When experiencing road rage, an aggressive driver might decide to brake check the vehicle behind them to deter tailgating or show displeasure with another act. Some aggressive drivers might even race in front of others and stomp on their brakes to retaliate for perceived slights.

  • Reckless “fun” –Reckless drivers sometimes brake check other vehicles driven by friends or family members in the name of “fun” or “harmless” irritation. Unfortunately, this dangerous maneuver can still lead to devastating crashes, even when no malice is intended.

  • Insurance fraud – In some cases, drivers engage in brake checking to cause car accidents on purpose. They hope that they can blame the rear driver and collect compensation from a fraudulent insurance settlement.

Is Aggressive Brake Checking Illegal?

Yes. Brake checking is an illegal driving practice here in Indiana. Indiana is one of just 11 states with specific laws against aggressive driving.

According to Indiana legal code, a driver commits an aggressive driving offense if they “knowingly or intentionally” engage in aggressive driving behaviors to “harass or intimidate” someone in another vehicle.

Aggressive driving violations also occur when a driver does at least three of the following while driving:

  • Follows too closely

  • Operates their vehicle “unsafely”

  • Passes others on the right by driving off of the roadway

  • Slows down or stops unsafely

  • Sounds their horn unnecessarily

  • Fails to yield the right of way

  • Drives at an “unsafe” speed

  • Repeatedly flashes their headlights

Although brake checking is not explicitly mentioned in the text of the law, stopping or slowing unsafely is legally defined as a type of aggressive driving maneuver. When combined with other common aggressive behaviors, brake checking could lead to aggressive driving charges in Indiana.

Aggressive driving is typically prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana traffic courts, punishable by $5,000 in fines and up to one year in jail. If someone is convicted of aggressive driving in a highway work zone, they could even be charged with a felony.

Lawrence County Zephyr will continue to monitor developments in the court proceedings or report if the case against Small is dismissed by Lawrence County Prosecutor Samuel Arp II.

A jury trial in the matter has been scheduled for July 12, 2023, in Lawrence County Superior Court I with Judge John Plummer III presiding over the case.

The January 6, 2023, lawsuit filed against the Bedford Police Department, Bedford Police Chief Terry Moore, former Bedford police officer Morgan Lee, Bedford Police officers Chase Hamilton, Clay Blackburn, Bedford Mayor Sam Craig, and Bedford City Council continues in Lawrence County Circuit Court.

In that lawsuit, Tyler Barton claims Bedford Police Department violated his Constitutional rights and is seeking damages in that case.

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