Suspended CPD officer agrees to resign, accepts plea bargain in battery case

COLUMBUS, Ind. — A Columbus police officer has agreed to resign and has accepted the terms of a plea bargain agreement, pleading guilty to Class A misdemeanor battery in a 2020 case involving a handcuffed suspect being hit.

John Velten, 37, who has been suspended without pay from the department while the criminal case was pending, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor Wednesday afternoon. He was sentenced to one year in jail, which was suspended, and ordered to serve 40 hours of community service and pay $185 in court costs. The plea bargain agreement called for an felony official misconduct charge to be dismissed.

Velten was accused of striking a handcuffed suspect with his fist outside a home on Indiana Avenue on June 16, 2020, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by an Indiana State Police investigator.

The alleged battery, which caused moderate injuries to John Robert Keith DeMerit, 40, took place after Velten witnessed the suspect hitting his head against the interior of a patrol car, the affidavit stated.

After Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge James Worton and prosecutor Bill Nash recused themselves, Decatur Circuit Judge Timothy Day agreed to oversee the case as special judge, while Dave Thomas of Vigo County stepped in as special prosecutor. Velten was represented by Indianapolis attorney John Kautzman.

During the ISP investigation, Velten remained employed with the city at the garage maintenance facility, as well as given other non-law enforcement tasks. But once the ISP investigation concluded and charges were filed, Velton was suspended without pay by the Columbus Board of Works and Public Safety pending the outcome of the criminal (case) proceedings.

Meanwhile, DeMerit was sentenced to time served after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct last December.

Velten was ordered to have no contact with DeMerit as part of the plea bargain agreement.