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Officer resigns after brawl

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Former Officer Joseph Rodriguez has resigned from the Greenwood Police Department, and the police department’s merit commission has unanimously accepted his resignation.

Rodriguez, who was arrested during an early-morning argument that escalated into a fight on New Year’s Day, was required to resign from the police department and to check into a rehabilitation facility as a condition of his release from the Johnson County jail.

Police Chief John Laut originally was going to make a recommendation that the merit commission fire Rodriguez.

But because Rodriguez resigned, the police chief no longer needed to make a recommendation, Laut said.

Rodriguez did not attend the merit commission’s meeting, nor did he have a representative at the meeting, Laut said.

“I think it’s unfortunate. The city had a lot invested in Joey. But this just goes to show you that, when you’re a police officer, when you make a bad decision, you’re held to a higher standard,” Laut said.

Rodriguez was arrested early on New Year’s Day on two charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, a charge of strangulation, a charge of battery, a charge of resisting law enforcement and a charge of public intoxication after fighting with other guests at a party. After police were called to the party, Rodriguez fought with and hit a Bargersville Police officer, a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputy and medics.

The Johnson County prosecutor’s office is in the process of charging Rodriguez with two felony counts of battery, which each carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison, and three misdemeanor counts of battery, which each carry up to one year in prison.

One witness also told police they saw Rodriguez with his hands around his wife’s throat at the party. But Rodriguez’s wife told police she didn’t remember that happening, and the prosecutor doesn’t plan to charge Rodriguez with strangulation.

Several witnesses at the party told officers they were concerned about giving statements to police about what had happened because they feared Rodriguez, who was with the police department for roughly 14 years, would be able to see their statements and might retaliate.

Laut, as well as Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers, said that anytime residents are worried about an officer’s conduct they need to report it.

Rodriguez served as a training officer for Greenwood, in addition to patrolling streets.

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