November 17, 2023 at 11:49 p.m.
A former Redkey police officer will serve about a year on probation for tampering with evidence.
Bradley R. Ridenour, 47, Peru, pleaded guilty Friday to obstruction of justice, a Class A misdemeanor, in Jay Superior Court. He was sentenced to 363 days in Jay County Jail with all but two days of his sentence suspended and given two days credit for time served.
Per the plea agreement, his charge was reduced from a Level 6 felony, which is punishable by up to two and a half years in Indiana.
Ridenour resigned from Redkey Police Department in November 2021. According to documents filed in connection with the case, reserve officer Dustin Huftel and Ridenour conducted two trash pulls Oct. 28, 2021, including a bin from outside a home on Meridian Street in Redkey. The home owner, Cody Barger, had been accused of dealing heroin to a rural Redkey resident who overdosed earlier that day. (Barger was charged in August 2021 with a Level 6 felony unlawful possession of a syringe, but the case was dismissed in December 2021.)
Ridenour confirmed during his hearing Friday that he had conducted a trash pull and that there hadn’t been a syringe in the trash. A court document said the trash contained ripped bags with powder residue, a cigarette package with two orange syringe caps and white paper with blood spots.
Huftel and former Redkey town marshal Tim Fishbaugh both told Indiana State Police that after the trash was searched Ridenour walked into the evidence room, returned with a syringe and placed it in the cigarette package.
“It was a joke to another officer,” said Ridenour in court Friday.
Wells County prosecutor Colin Andrews noted that if the evidence had made it to Jay County Prosecutor’s Office, it wouldn’t have been seen as a joke. Ridenour confirmed that he took the syringe out of the cigarette package the next morning.
Andrews told Ridenour he was thankful he didn’t leave the syringe in with the other evidence. (Ridenour’s report from the incident didn’t list a syringe as evidence found from the trash pull.) The offense would have been more serious if he hadn’t removed the false evidence, Andrews noted, but he reminded Ridenour that he had still committed a crime in tampering with evidence. (Some court cases were dismissed as a result of Ridenour’s actions.)
“I do think that Mr. Ridenour was playing fast and loose with the rules,” said Andrews. “We’re public servants and we have a high duty here.”
Ridenour currently serves as a police canine trainer in Miami County. He plans to continue working through his probation period.
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