Portage Police Chief Mike Candiano released a statement Wednesday about an incident that occurred on Aug. 13.
The following is the statement from Candianio:
“Yesterday, some of our local news outlets reported on an incident, which occurred in the City of Portage during the evening of August 13, 2022. Unfortunately, this has created a lot of misinformation on social media. Often this occurs from people not reading further than the headline and / or creating their own narrative based on assumptions. Thus, I would like to provide a bit of additional information, based on reports and witness statements obtained from this incident.
“On August 13th at approximately 7:44 pm Portage Police Officers were dispatched to the 5500 block of Harmony in reference to a 12-year-old caller screaming and stating multiple subjects were “jumping her father”. Porter County Dispatch advised responding Officers the child was hysterical and they could hear numerous subjects screaming in the background.
“As initial Officers approached Harmony, they encountered a large group of subjects in the area of Meyers Elementary. Witnesses stated there had been a large fight and several subjects had fled the area. Officers then observed a male subject with a badly injured face, later identified as Robert Johnson, run from the school. The male entered the residence on Harmony and refused to allow Officers entry. As Officers were outside the residence, they observed multiple subjects inside, including two with obvious injuries.
“Due to the nature of the 911 call and the confirmation there were multiple injured subjects inside, Officers entered the home. Although debated on social media, Our Officers absolutely had legal authority and a legal duty to check on the welfare of the occupants. As I previously stated, a frantic caller had stated there was an active disturbance at the residence.
“Once inside the home, Officers encountered numerous uncooperative and intoxicated subjects, including the aforementioned Mr. Johnson, Matthew Gonzalez, and Holly Gonzalez. During the investigation in the home Mrs. Gonzalez pushed an Officer on two occasions and was subsequently advised she was under arrest. As Officers attempted to take her into custody, Mr. Gonzalez charged them.
“An additional Officer stepped in front of Mr. Gonzalez in an attempt to keep him away from the Officers struggling with Mrs. Gonzalez. Mr. Gonzalez then punched the Officer in the eye with a closed fist, knocking him to the ground. Mr. Gonzalez was taken to the ground, where he continued to fight and placed the injured Officer in a chokehold. After continuing to fight with multiple Officers, Mr. Gonzalez was taken into custody, along with Mrs. Gonzalez, and Mr. Johnson. All subjects were uncooperative and refused to provide statements regarding the original disturbance.
“Unfortunately, information is circulating that injuries reflected in Mr. Johnson’s booking photo were incurred from his encounter with the police. However, as stated above, Mr. Johnson was involved in a disturbance prior to Officers’ arrival. Mr. Johnson was observed running from Meyers with these facial injuries as the first Officer arrived on scene.
“During the fights, multiple Officers sustained injuries. The most serious injuries included a fractured orbital, a scratched cornea, and impaired vision, all incurred by the Officer being struck by Mr. Gonzalez.
“Our Officer is facing a long road of recovery and will be out of work indefinitely. Our thoughts are with him and his family as he recovers.
“I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the Porter County Sheriff’s Department, the Burns Harbor Police Department, The Ogden Dunes Police Department, and the Porter County 911 Center for their assistance that evening. The 911 Center dispatched officers to fifteen additional calls for service in the city during this same time frame. Five of these calls involved reports of physical violence that required an immediate response from officers. There were also two more disturbance calls originating from the same home on Harmony shortly after Officers cleared from the first call, neither of which resulted in any further arrests. With the high volume of calls and the necessity to treat injured Officers, it was extremely appreciated to have assistance from our neighboring departments.