MISHAWAKA, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has confirmed high ranking members of the Mishawaka Police Department covered up a suspected drunk driving incident involving Mayor Dave Wood’s son, 21-year-old Joe Wood. People involved in covering up the incident include the Chief of Police and an MPD Captain. While the entire interaction was captured on bodycam and dashcam footage, an attorney with the City of Mishawaka is refusing to release the entirety of the video and audio regarding the incident.
According to reports, the incident happened just after midnight on October 28th, 2022. A low ranking officer pulled Joe Wood over for suspected OWI (Operating While Intoxicated). Learning that the suspect was the Mayor's son, the officer called for his shift supervisor. REAL News Michiana spoke to the shift supervisor, but is not naming him out of fear of retaliation. According to the shift supervisor, when he got to the scene of the traffic stop, he told the officer to do his job, treating the Mayor's son like anyone else. However, shortly after, the shift commander, Captain Eric Beckham, arrived on scene and quickly started to cover-up the suspected crime.
According to multiple sources at MPD, Captain Beckham pulled up to the scene, put the Mayor's son into his car and drove him to the Mayor's home. The Mayor's son also had a firearm with him. Captain Beckham also took possession of the firearm. Beckham later told all of the officers "it will be easier for everyone if we just forget about this happening."
The shift supervisor tells RNM that he went to Mishawaka Chief of Police, Ken Witkowski, as a whistleblower. However, his complaint about how the situation was handled was ignored. Within weeks, of the incident involving the Mayor's son, the shift supervisor had been demoted from Lieutenant to Patrolman. He has since retired from MPD and found a new job outside of the agency.
According to sources, Captain Beckham and Mayor Wood have an extremely close relationship. Sources say Beckham is on the short list to be appointed by the Mayor as the next MPD Chief.
RNM sent a public records request for the bodycam and dashcam audio and video. An attorney for the Mayor, Pat Hinkle, told RNM that the request would be fulfilled by March 1st. However, in an email sent to RNM on March 1st, Hinkle claimed they would not be releasing all of the information requested because it is "procedural" and is not applicable to the Indiana Access to Public Records Act statute. You can read the email from Hinkle below.
RNM has since reached out to the Indiana Public Access Counselor to give him more context regarding the case to expedite the procurement of all of the audio and video from the incident, as it appears Hinkle is also attempting to assist in the coverup.
RNM learned that the Mishawaka Police Department sanitized its media logs, removing the incident number from its publicly available reports. However, a call for service report shows the incident occurred and no report was taken.
RNM also contacted a detective with the Indiana State Police this week with all of the information gathered, including documents and emails from MPD and the Mayor's attorney.
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