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Coroner says he has “never been asked to arrest any sheriff”

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – The disturbance involving the Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux at the Three Rivers Festival last week is getting new reaction.

A heavily-redacted police report says a 15-year-old volunteer “fell backwards onto a PVC pipe” and suffered injuries.

While the report doesn’t mention the Sheriff by name, it lists offenses as simple assault, disorderly conduct, and intoxicated person.

Police made no arrest, but Fort Wayne’s NBC wanted some insight. State law says the only person with authority to serve a warrant to arrest the Sheriff is the Allen County Coroner.

Fort Wayne’s NBC spoke with Allen County Coroner, Dr. Craig Nelson over the phone Monday to ask if he was ever contacted to serve a warrant for the arrest of Sheriff Gladieux. He responded, “I have never been asked to arrest any sheriff.”

That got us wondering, if charges of public intoxication, or the other charges brought up in this incident would warrant an arrest in this type of situation.

“I venture to say there isn’t any policy for any of this, and there isn’t much training for this either,” said former Adams County Prosecutor Dan Sigler.

In regard to simple assault, Sigler says it’s common for officers not to arrest on the spot saying they have to have probable cause to make the arrest.

“Officers, I think as a rule in my experience, tend to be reluctant to arrest on the basis of what witnesses tell them without the opportunity to evaluate the witnesses, question them, and gather whatever physical evidence there might be,” said Sigler.

In regard to public intoxication Sigler says making an arrest is at the officers discretion. “I would think normally, and again it’s a judgment call I will tell you, but if the officer thought the public safety was involved, then an arrest would be made. If nothing else to protect the intoxicated person,” he said.

Though Sigler didn’t comment on Gladieux’s case specifically, he does say he believes an intoxicated person typically can pose a threat to the general public.But did add that not every intoxicated person is arrested.

“There may have been factors that led the officers to think they were in a situation, to again exercise caution, they ought to get their ducks in a row to figure out what the laws are, what their powers were. So I can understand why they might not want to do it where there was a Sheriff,” said Sigler.

While police chose not to arrest the sheriff after responding to an initial call for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and simple assault, Fort Wayne officers did arrest someone else this festival season for public intoxication, and possession of synthetic drugs.

Police also arrested another person at the festival for flying a drone “too close to another aircraft.”

Arrests are not uncommon at the three rivers festival. We uncovered numbers showing every arrest executed at the festival since 1994. In 1995 police arrested 46 people. Though in recent years the average number of arrests usually hovers in the single digits.

While we know police made an arrest for public intoxication this year Fort Wayne police tell us they don’t have the number of arrests broken down by type, so we don’t know what those arrests in the previous years were for.

Kaitlyn Kendall

Kaitlyn Kendall anchors ABC21 news at 5 and is the chief investigative reporter for the stations Digging Deeper team.

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