Purdue announces resolution to Feb. 4 police incident

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Following a decision by the special prosecutor not to pursue charges in a Feb. 4 incident on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus, President Mitch Daniels and the Purdue Board of Trustees; Adonis Tuggle, the student involved in the incident; the Purdue University Police Department; and PUPD Officer Jon Selke jointly announced agreement on steps forward to ensure such an incident does not recur on campus.

“First, we understand and respect the prosecutor’s decision and are glad for his forbearance in not proceeding with charges against Adonis. Notwithstanding the legal considerations, we believe this was an incident that escalated too quickly in the distinctive context of our campus environment,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “We recognize this is an outcome that no member of the Purdue community should expect in light of our high aspirations for community policing at Purdue, which have the primary aim of ensuring a safe and positive experience for our students on campus.  We deeply regret what happened, and we’re grateful for our community’s patience as we, alongside Adonis, Officer Jon Selke and their families, have worked to gain a better understanding of what occurred that night and a reconciliation among the parties to the incident.

“We’re proud of the fact that PUPD has no record of this type of incident occurring in the past. It was an aberration and must remain so. “Zero” is the only acceptable number of such incidents at Purdue. We’ve directed several definitive steps to reduce the chance that anything of this kind ever occurs in the future.”

In a private meeting on campus, Selke and Tuggle discussed the manner in which the incident escalated and the impact the incident has had on Adonis, his family, and the Purdue community, particularly Black Boilermakers.

“I apologize for the impact of my actions on the night of February 4, 2022,” Selke said. “I have privately spoken with Adonis and his mother, Ms. Cornelia Dawson, to express my sincere apologies to them. I fully acknowledge how my actions and the images of this event have called into question the safety and belonging of Purdue’s Black community. I am very sorry for that.”

Tuggle said he appreciated the opportunity to meet with Officer Selke to discuss what transpired on Feb. 4.

“I’m grateful to President Daniels and Purdue University leadership for the support I have received over the past few weeks,” he said. “Through this experience I’ve come to understand that Purdue and PUPD are committed to positive community policing and providing a healthy and safe environment for Black Boilermakers. I recently had the opportunity to meet Officer Selke and learn more about his background and his family, and to understand his own personal history and service in the military and as a PUPD officer. We had a productive conversation, and I’m committed to working with him, the Purdue police, my fellow students, and the broader university community to forge a positive path forward.”

Andrew M. Stroth, attorney for the Tuggle family, said he has been involved with hundreds of cases related to the use of force by police officers as a civil rights attorney.

“I am grateful to President Daniels, Trustee Don Thompson, and Purdue’s leadership not only for taking proactive and meaningful steps to ensure Adonis feels welcome and safe on campus, but also for pledging to look at the way PUPD approaches community policing,” he said. “As I reviewed this case, it was clear Purdue does not have a record of racist policing toward students. But I have never seen an institution respond so swiftly and positively with this kind of commitment to evaluating potential process improvements, which I think will only build on the efforts of Purdue’s Equity Task Force to create a welcoming living and learning environment for Black students on Purdue’s campus.”

Daniels said Purdue will implement the following with a further commitment to ongoing assessment and improvements:

  • A reminder to the campus of any citizen’s responsibility and the legal requirement to respect promptly and peacefully the requests of a law enforcement officer.
  • An immediate external review of the Purdue University Police Department’s use of force policy and de-escalation training program, followed by an action plan and metrics designed to prevent a recurrence of this type of incident.
  • Officer Jon Selke is temporarily reassigned to administrative services while participating in comprehensive training, with a particular focus on de-escalation protocols, before returning to patrol duties.
  • Continued commitment to recruiting a diverse police force, including Black student leader representation on search committees for PUPD leadership positions.

As announced Monday (April 11), the special prosecutor assigned to review an external investigation by the Indiana State Police ruled that despite the existence of probable cause for criminal charges against Tuggle, no charges will be filed in the Feb. 4 incident based on the input of Officer Selke and the victim described in the prosecutor’s report. As promised, now that the prosecutor has made his decision, Purdue will arrange to make body-worn camera recordings available to the campus community as soon as appropriate redactions have been made under public records law.

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