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INDIANAPOLIS – Two Indianapolis police officers who were off duty at a bar drinking shots with a pregnant bartender beat up a patron who began arguing with the woman, an affidavit released Wednesday said.
John Serban and Michael Reiger face felony battery charges over the Aug. 7 incident, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said. According to the probable cause affidavit, 29-year-old patron Bradford Bohanon was put in a chokehold, kicked and had his face ground into the pavement outside the bar, and the officers went back inside afterward and resumed drinking.
Serban, a 16-year police veteran, and Reiger, a 15-year veteran, were arrested without incident Tuesday. A news release from the department said both officers have been suspended without pay pending termination.
"This is a disappointing day for the Police Department and the Department of Public Safety," Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said at a news conference Wednesday.
The affidavit said Serban, 40, and Reiger, 46, were drinking cinnamon whiskey shots with a pregnant bartender along with beer at Mikie's Pub on Indianapolis' south side when Serban became annoyed at patron Bradford Bohanon, who was getting loud, cursing and getting belligerent with the bartender, the probable cause affidavit said.
A videotape of the incident showed the bartender and Bohanon having a disagreement — she had asked Bohanon to leave — when Serban went behind the bar and placed his badge in front of Bohanon's face, according to the affidavit. However, Bohanon, believing the badge was fake, threw it to the ground before the melee broke out, the affidavit said.
Serban placed Bohanon in a chokehold and the three men tumbled into tables, the affidavit said. The videotape showed Reiger then dragged Bohanon facedown by his legs across the bar and out the door while Serban continued punching him, according to the affidavit.
A doorman told investigators he tried to intervene in the fight, only to get punched in the face by Serban. He later saw Serban grind his foot in Bohanon's face while it was on the pavement, "like you're putting out a cigarette," according to the affidavit.
"For trained police officers to react and overreact in this way, it's unacceptable," Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told WRTV-TV.
Published phone numbers could not be found for Reiger, Serban and Bohanon.
According to the affidavit, a server at the bar said Reiger approached her once he was back inside after the beating and said, "What happens here, stays here, right?"
The officers did not seek medical help for Bohanon or call an on-duty officer or supervisor to come to the scene, the affidavit said.
Bohanon suffered scrapes, a boot mark on his head, knots on the back of his head and wounds to his legs, stomach and eye sockets, the affidavit said. He was treated at a hospital in Indianapolis.