South Bend officer accused of punching handcuffed man charged with civil rights violation

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By: Krystal Vivian kvivian@953mnc.com

A South Bend police officer accused of punching a handcuffed man has been charged with a civil rights violation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Officer Theodore Robert is charged with depriving a person of civil rights while acting under the color of law, according to a news release from the Justice Department.

Robert is accused of assaulting a handcuffed man and injuring him at the St. Joseph County Jail on May 30, 2010. The incident was caught on a security camera. Video footage shows Robert shoving the handcuffed man around a room and punching him.

The South Bend Police Department takes “all allegations of police misconduct very seriously” and is cooperating with the Justice Department’s investigation, Chief Ron Teachman told WSBT.

Robert is on paid administrative leave because of his “violations of the duty manual, violations of general orders, and numerous citizen and administrative complaints,” a SBPD spokesperson told WSBT. Teachman will ask the Board of Public Safety to put Robert on unpaid leave at the board’s next meeting.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s South Bend office is investigating the 2010 incident. The case is being prosecuted by attorneys Stephen Curran and Sanjay Patel with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana.

The incident between Robert and the handcuffed man was the focus of a 2012 civil lawsuit. Read more about the lawsuit in a story from WSBT.