Special prosecutor on viral video showing Purdue officer detaining student: “Officer Selke did exactly as we expect our police officers to do”
Two months after a viral video showed a Purdue University police officer forcefully detaining a student, a special prosecutor has declined to file charges against either the officer or the student.
Both Purdue President Mitch Daniels and Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington called for a special investigation into Purdue Police Officer Jon Selke’s actions after a video of his encounter with student Adonis Tuggle surfaced in February. According to police, Selke had been responding to a reported domestic dispute.
The video showed Selke, who is white, lying on top of Tuggle, who is Black, and forcing his elbow into Tuggle’s face and throat. Tuggle’s girlfriend, who recorded the video, can be heard telling the officer to get his elbow “off my boyfriend’s neck.”
The incident also led Purdue’s Black Student Union to hold a town hall to discuss what happened - with many students calling Selke’s actions a clear case of excessive use of force.
In his report, special prosecutor Rodney Cummings disagreed, writing that the video of the incident released by Tuggle “failed to depict his own behavior which necessitated police use of force.”
For his investigation, Cummings said he communicated with Indiana State Police, Purdue Police, and representatives with Purdue University. Cummings also said he attempted to contact the victim (Tuggle’s “then girlfriend”, as she is described in the report) but was only able to have conversations with the victim’s mother and “another representative” of the victim.
The initial call to the police on Feb. 4 about the incident described a woman in the driver’s seat of a car with a “guy outside of door screaming really loud.”
“I think she’s trying to leave,” the caller apparently said. “He won’t let her leave.”
According to Cummings’s report, when Selke arrived at the scene he found Tuggle outside the victim’s car. The driver's seat door was open, and the victim sat inside. When Selke asked what was going on, Tuggle responded, “This is my girlfriend. She’s been acting f---ing crazy.”
Tuggle did not respond to two requests from Selke to get behind the car. After Selke requested that Tuggle move behind the vehicle for a third time without an answer, Selke told Tuggle he would be putting him in handcuffs. As Selke attempted to handcuff Tuggle the scene quickly escalated - with Tuggle’s girlfriend stepping out of the vehicle to record the video of Selke that has since gone viral.
“While I agree officer Selke could have spent more time attempting to de-escalate the situation, that consideration is not within the scope of my responsibility,” Cummings said.
But, according to Cummings, a full investigation found that Selke “did exactly as we expect our police officers to do” in intervening on behalf of a victim and restraining Tuggle without injuring him.
No charges will be pressed against Selke and, while Cummings said charges could be pressed against Tuggle, he will honor “the requests of Officer Selke, representatives of Purdue University, and the wishes of the victim” in declining to file charges.
During the initial announcement calling for a special prosecutor, President Daniels said the university would release the investigation's findings and body camera footage once the investigation had concluded. Purdue Spokesperson Tim Doty, when asked for comment, said only that the university appreciated the special prosecutor’s “care and concern” in investigating the matter.
“We will have a statement once we have taken the time to review the ruling,” Doty wrote.
The attorney representing Tuggle also did not respond to a request for comment.