TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)- A Tippecanoe County Sheriff officer is on paid administrative leave after an internal affairs investigation. Lieutenant Randy Martin is accused of using excessive force and accessing sheriff's department documents without permission for personal gain. In the use of force incident, Lieutenant Martin has charges filed with the merit board saying he used unnecessary force against two people identified as Austin Switzer and Krista Phillips. He followed a vehicle to the McDonald's in Lafayette at 510 Sagamore Parkway North. When he got there he claimed the people involved were drunk and being combative. Krista Phillips and Austin Switzer, her husband, were celebrating two of their family members' birthdays with a group of friends. They started the night bar hopping and eventually ended up at a local strip club where a fight broke out. After leaving, they stopped at McDonald's where the incident occurred.
"We were just there to go to the bathroom,” said Phillips. “Everyone wanted food we had called it a night we were going to go home.”
They realized a Tippecanoe County Sheriff's car had followed them once they got there. Their designated driver forgot to turn their headlights on while driving to the McDonalds.
"I initially walked up to his window and asked him what the issue was,” said Phillips. “ He told us well you drove across the highway without your headlights on and from there it just escalated."
The investigation claims that after reviewing body camera footage, the use of force was not needed.
However, Lieutenant Martin pepper sprayed both Switzer and Phillips directly in their faces and then said "Who else wants it" then used a swear word to order them into the car.
Lieutenant Martin also used his taser on both people after claiming that Phillips was committing domestic battery against Switzer. After reviewing body camera footage, the Sheriff's Office determined Lieutenant Martin did not need to use his taser on either one of them. Phillips said she was trying to get her husband in the car and follow Lieutenant Martin’s orders.
"I was trying to get him back in the vehicle so we could go and our backs were towards them when they tased us," said Phillips.
The accusation that Lieutenant Martin accessed police documents shows that he did it for personal gain which is against the sheriff's department's policy. The Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office will have a Merit Board review of these charges on Monday, March 8th at 10:30 and Tuesday, March 9th at 12:00 PM. The documents provided to us show that Sheriff Bob Goldsmith is asking for the Merit Board to terminate his employment. For the time being, he remains on paid administrative leave. We reached out to the sheriff's office for an interview as well as the body camera footage but they weren't able to provide us with either. To read the document detailing the use of force investigation click here. To read the document detailing the investigation regarding his violation of accessing documents without permission click here.