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South Whitley Police Officer Fired After Traffic Stop Involving High School Student

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SOUTH WHITLEY, Ind. — A police officer has been fired months after a traffic stop in which he pulled a high school student out of her car and arrested her.

Vivian Augustus is a senior at Columbia City High School and was pulled over in January for speeding and having a tail light out on her car. She pulled into a gas station in South Whitley and only a few seconds after approaching the car, Officer Brian Schimmel is seen on surveillance video opening Augustus’s car door and then soon after that yanking her out of the car and onto the ground.

He placed handcuffs on her and then walked her to the back seat of his patrol car.

“You were pulled over for your speed and your headlight, OK? Your speed was 37 in a 30. Not that big of a deal, and your headlight was out on your driver’s side. Pulling you over to let you know,” Schimmel said on the body cam footage. “If you had just given me your license and your registration like I asked you to do, you would have gone away with a warning tonight; but, however, since you decided to pull this right here, where you don’t want to comply, you don’t want to give me your ID, you think you’re going to run the scene, you’re now going to jail. Do you understand?”

“I was trying to give you my ID,” Augustus responded.

You were not. How many times did I ask you?” Schimmel asked.

“I was getting out my ID,” Augustus said.

“You were not. I’ve got a bodycam on. It’ll show you not pulling your ID out. When I ask you step out of the vehicle you step out of the vehicle. You don’t get to sit there and tell me how I’m going to do my job. You understand,” Schimmel said.

Some of the trouble with the case is that Schimmel’s body camera did not start recording the incident until after Augustus was on the ground. Therefore, it’s impossible to know if Augustus was in fact refusing Schimmel’s requests for her ID.

Augustus was charged with refusing to identify herself and resisting law enforcement. The latter charge was dropped not long after she was taken to jail, but a trial date of October was set for the former. Augustus’s family, especially her father Brent Augustus, was ready to fight the charges.

“She’s a captain of her show choir. She’s a part of the Columbia City High School EMT (emergency medical technician) training program. She volunteers at church and youth leadership programs, and she’s wanting to study political science and prelaw,” he said to WISH-TV.

He added that the arrest arrest was “uncharacteristic” of her.

They obtained the surveillance video from outside the gas station where the incident happened through the courts and they released the video to the public. It was then that the town of South Whitley and the police department got a lot of public outcry over the incident.

A week after the video’s release, Schimmel was fired and the charges against Augustus were dropped. A statement from the town said, “Due to public safety, Officer Brian Schimmel is no longer with the South Whitley Police Department.”

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