A Democratic councilman who won re-election last November, despite facing murder and drug trafficking charges, was sworn in last week while behind bars.
Robert “Coop” Battle of East Chicago, Indiana, celebrated his inauguration Friday, and the $42,356 annual salary that goes with it, while awaiting trial in Porter County Jail on federal drug and homicide charges, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana.
The Times reported:
He has been in federal detention since his arrest Nov. 17. He is pleading not guilty to a five-count indictment alleging he possessed cocaine and marijuana and killed a street gang member as part of a drug-dealing conspiracy.
Battle has said through his attorney that he shot Reimundo Camarillo Jr., 31, on Oct. 12 in self-defense. Authorities have said East Chicago’s ShotSpotter technology recorded “methodical three shots” that Battle fired.
Democrats, meanwhile, find the situation downright embarrassing.
“I can’t remember a situation like this,” Sheriff John Buncich, chair of the Lake County Democratic Central Committee, told the Chicago Tribune in November, The Washington Post reported. “It’s wrong for the taxpayers, wrong for our party.”
He observed that there was no way in which Battle could attend council meetings.
“I’m very, very upset about this,” Buncich added. “To me what is right is right. You are innocent until proven guilty, but the fact remains you are not going to get out. There is no bond on the charges. As the Democratic leader of the county party, I need to look out for the best interest of the party.”
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