An Indiana police officer and a Chief of Police are facing dire consequences after arresting a political candidate because they thought he was anti-police, forcing him to withdraw from his race for town council.
The candidate, Trevin Thalheimer, was running for town council in the city of Brookville in Indiana's Franklin County when he was accused of several crimes including drug possession.
But Franklin County Prosecutor Chris Huerkamp dropped all charges last month after witnesses testified about the way police spoke of Thalheimer—including one who claimed the former candidate "hates cops."
Officer Ryan Geiser and Chief of Police Terry Mitchum were suspended for what appears to many as a targeted attempt to destroy Thalheimer's candidacy.
Thalheimer said he was "destroyed" by the criminal charges and it took months to clear his name after two officers accused him. He withdrew from the primary because of the controversy, which consumed the town of Brookville.
He told The Washington Post:
“I have a bad taste in my mouth about politics. I knew politics was dirty, but I didn’t know I’d have to dumpster dive.”
During a hearing about the charges against Thalheimer, a friend of Thalheimer's testified one of the officers, Ryan Geiser, contacted her to urge her to run for town council against Thalheimer.
She said the officer told her:
“We don’t want him on the town board because he hates cops.”
It is believed by many, including Thalheimer, the police's opposition to his candidacy stems from his support for body-cameras. Brookville is the only local police force that does not wear the devices.
Geiser later went to Thalheimer's home to investigate—at Mitchum's instruction—an old sexual assault allegation against him a prosecutor was unable to substantiate and claimed he smelled marijuana on the premises.
He arrested Thalheimer for drug possession and for the assault charge, claiming there was new DNA evidence in the case. In a hearing, Geiser confessed to not having seen said evidence nor did he consult anyone in the prosecutor's office about it.
Thalheimer said he is considering filing a civil rights claim against the police department.
On Twitter, people were appalled and outraged by the case.
Many were unnerved by what they saw as a potentially dangerous precedent of political persecution by law enforcement.
The Indiana State Police launched a criminal investigation into Geiser's and Mitchum's actions as a result.
Their investigation is ongoing.