Two officers injured making arrest in Heritage Lake

Thursday, July 5, 2012

HERITAGE LAKE -- Two reserve officers for the Putnam County Sheriff's Department were injured early Wednesday morning while responding to a call in Heritage Lake.

Denna De La Cruz, a reserve officer, was airlifted to St. Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis, and is in stable condition, while Barry Barger was admitted to Hendricks Regional Health. He has since been released.

At around 2 a.m. Wednesday De La Cruz responded to a call at a party at 303 Victory Hills, where there were reports of someone suffering from a seizure.

After investigating the scene De La Cruz returned to discover Paul Reed Wittig, 45, Coatesville, attempting to enter her police cruiser.

De La Cruz called for backup.

A struggle ensued, during which Wittig disarmed De La Cruz.

Together she and Barger eventually handcuffed Wittig, but he continued to struggle.

While handcuffed Wittig used his legs to tackle De La Cruz, pinning her to the ground and causing her internal injuries by putting pressure on her chest and stomach.

Barger attempted to pull Wittig off De La Cruz but was deterred by another man, J. Lance Weaver, 44, Coatesville.

More officers arrived on the scene, at which time the two subjects were placed under arrest. They are being held at Putnam County Jail.

Wittig is being charged with battery of a police officer, failure to identify himself to an officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, disarming an officer and public intoxication.

Weaver is being charged with criminal recklessness, refusing to aid a police officer, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice.

Tom Helmer, chief deputy at the Sheriff's Department, said investigation is ongoing and it is possible that up to ten more people may still be arrested for charges like obstruction of justice.

"We will not put up with this stuff," Helmer said. "We're going to ask for the maximum."

The seizure victim for whom the original call was made was examined by paramedics at the scene, determined to need no hospitalization and signed a medical release.

There was reportedly a large crowd at the party, though there is no estimate.

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  • Crazy. Hope there is a follow up story that includes more details about what happened.

    -- Posted by Skyscycle03 on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 12:37 AM
  • Looks like the volunteer deputy wasn't as trigger happy as others may have been.

    -- Posted by Ed46135 on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 6:47 AM
  • Ed46135 are you talking trash just to see your name in print? You were not at either scene, so keep your speculations to yourself.

    -- Posted by Geologist on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 7:15 AM
  • I was wondering the same thing Ed46135

    -- Posted by mickhamblen on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 7:53 AM
  • Just seems there is no respect for law enforcement anymore-what is this community coming to-people think they can do whatever they want in this county-we have such a thing as respect-but I wonder if there is any for law enforcement who work very hard.

    -- Posted by peace2019 on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 8:41 AM
  • Wow, so he is still alive. He clearly beat 2 people and was not shot. Ed46135 you are so right!

    -- Posted by BlackBarbie22 on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 8:44 AM
  • Agree w/ Volunteer FF! We hire officers to protect us, call them out to put their life on the line, & then complain. Sounds pretty dysfunctional. Respect them & let them do their job.

    I wasn't at either scene either -- but had I been a lone officer at this one ...

    -- Posted by BG-reader on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 9:57 AM
  • Wow!! Another typo filled story by Putnam County's funny paper. Look! Get your facts and spelling straight before you print this ****. Grab a map and find "Hickory Hills" in Heritage Lake. You may want to double check the spelling of the suspects name also. You are not the ID channel and you do not have to change suspect names to protect anyone.

    -- Posted by concerned3 on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 10:44 AM
  • I hope they get the maximum. We need to show emergency personnel workers a whole lot more respect than we do. There is no excuse to tolerate this kind of behavior.

    -- Posted by just1me on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 10:44 AM
  • I know these officers they have helped our family alot, last month we had friends that we have known for years stay with us to help them get back on there feet and found out they were stealing from us when they was ask to leave our house they stole all the groceries that we had just bought the day before. These officers out of the goodness of there heart to buy us groceries. They have been trying there hardest to clean up this community. Its sad that these officers have to deal with STUPID criminals.I hope that Denna recovers well. And that these criminals get whats coming to them.

    -- Posted by heritagelake22 on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 12:41 PM
  • How about investing in tasers?

    -- Posted by mgseamanjr on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 6:14 PM
  • It is truly a sad outcome for all involved. There have been a lot of disgruntled Heritage Lake residents as of late due to this particular female office overstepping and being difficult to deal with. Many residents have a lot of frustration and it has blown up in a terribly inappropriate way. So sad and hopefully she will recover completely. Maybe even learn to be an effective law enforcement officer. It is not effective to alienate such a large group of poeple in the community. Unfortunately that is what seems to fuel outcomes such as this where no one wins.

    Law enforcement is needed and should be respected but also needs to build positive relationships with their neighbors and people they serve and protect.

    I personally hope for a positive outcome, even though the road to that outcome has been riddled with issues and misfortune.

    -- Posted by Citezen 66 on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 7:01 PM
  • Citizen 66... are you kidding me?

    So, she deserved this? She alienated a whole community and that gives this p.o.s. the right to beat her?

    If you are a law abiding citizen then you should have no issues staying out of the way of an officer. It's the people who continually cause problems in the community that are complaining that she was doing her job.

    I am so sick of reading peoples comments about how they feel an officer should react to a situation, patrol an area, or respond to a call. If you think they are doing it wrong then apply for the job and show them how. Until the day you decide to risk everything you love and take on this community you have no right to voice such ignorant opinions!

    P.S. BlackBarbie22: Were you at either one of these incidents? Did you personally witness what went on? I always see your comments on here and it is my opinion that you are what we refer to as a "**** stirrer" and that is how your comments should be viewed.

    -- Posted by WTFRUthinkin on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 7:21 PM
  • UMad, You sir are a worthless P.O.S. Hope you need a "real" deputy one night and he is on a dog complaint on the far end of the county. Listen to the radio and hear all the stupid calls they get sent on. She is trained ******* and is dedicated to Heritage Lake area. Career and volunteer bust their *** without a thank you. She should have shot the *******. But she would have had to live with that. I know. I was there.

    -- Posted by nomoretaxes on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 8:18 PM
  • VolFF - you at both trouble spots? Seem you notin' but trouble.

    UMad - this isn't about her physical capabilities, it's about her people skills.

    WTFRU/Just1Me - Citezen66 didn't say she deserved this but rather pointed out that her large chip on her shoulder didn't help, either. Those who show respect, get respect.

    -- Posted by FocusPeople on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 9:23 PM
  • So it's okay to beat the crap out of people who don't show you respect? I'll remember that for the next time someone treats me with anything less... there will be a lot of people running around with black eyes in Greencastle then!

    -- Posted by WTFRUthinkin on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 9:47 PM
  • What kind of people are you? She was on duty! It was her job! If you were in trouble you would call a cop...regardless of who showed up...they are still law enforcement...Then you complain if they do their job! What is wrong with this picture? We have a ton of people that put their lives on the line everyday for us and this is the thanks they get for doing it?

    Since when does a drunk person regardless if male or female get to take advantage of someone who is attempting to help them?

    If she had not been in uniform, and had been a random passerby would it have been okay to almost kill her? I think not.

    You all got a dysfunctional way of looking at people.

    So because she is an officer and has a gun and he is beating her she has no rights? Since when?

    With or without a uniform and if I had a gun I would've shot him myself if he was hitting me.

    -- Posted by Outspoken on Thu, Jul 5, 2012, at 10:11 PM
  • It is so easy to judge these situations when we are sitting on our comfy couches. There is no way any of us can say how we would handle any of these recent events unless we were actually there and involved. I do think that there should be more than one officer sent to any of these situations....and I think that there usually are. Everyone is so happy to jump on the officers and criticize them....but when you call 911 you definately want them to be available for you....They are regular people just like you and I who happened to end up having this as their job....I am sure glad I do not have people scrutinizing every choice and decision I make at my job....This is getting completely out of hand....

    -- Posted by CTT149 on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 12:03 AM
  • The main reason this whole thing happened was because drunk idiots decided to let their frustration finally get a hold of them. They are not good people and this should not have happened. There is a reason why people are bashing Denna though. She is not a good cop. Yes, cops have a difficult job and they put their lives on the line every day, but that doesn't mean that every action they take should be judged as right. In the past year, she has turned a large majority of the lake's residents against her simply for the ways she handle's things. It was unfortunate that this all happened, but this was going to blow up in her face eventually.

    A few things to sort out:

    The person that was having a seizure was not either of the guys arrested. The kid having a seizure was just stupid and drank way to much.

    Denna was there alone at that time of night because she was in the area and was assisting the EMT personnel called in to help the kid. She usually checks in on the party a few times every year.

    This all escalated pretty quickly so I don't think any guns really could have been pulled, especially with so many people around.

    Citezen 66 gives you an idea of how the people living at Heritage Lake have been feeling recently. The cops really do deserve our utmost respect, but if you are feeling mistreated, you are going to be upset whether or not it is a cop.

    -- Posted by Piney on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 12:16 AM
  • It is extremely obvious we should be rethinking how we equip our Reserve "volunteer" officers. Maybe, less lethal weapons! Perhaps nightstick and pepper spray only! You don't hand a scalpel to a Candy Striper "Volunteer", in a hospital , then send he or she into a surgical procedure. Do we?


    -- Posted by woodchuck44 on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 2:17 AM
  • I was at this party, and yeah this happened, but this article doesn't even begin to describe what actually happened and how bad it was or the POLICE BRUTALITY that happened! There were about 500 people at the party, and that doesn't even include the parties across the lake that were happening because of this party. This party happens every year and it was ruined because a few people got a little too drunk and a few teens did some stupid stuff.

    -- Posted by AIT14 on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 3:45 AM
  • VolFF-it appears you were en eye witness at both scenes. You need to give your name and written testimony to the proper authorities seeing you and only you know the true facts. Thanks for enlightening the rest of us poor uneducated citizens. I'm guessing that VolFF, means volunteer firefighter, and in your case the closest you could come to being a wannabe cop.

    -- Posted by Ed46135 on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 7:33 AM
  • AIT14...I hardly think that with the officers being out numbered 500 to 2, that there was any "police brutality" get serious!

    -- Posted by pacman on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 7:59 AM
  • Piney has gotten my point exactly.... People are upset because this reserve officer is completely over the top and unreasonable. If this person was acting in the true sense of trying to be a good public servant the whole attitude toward her would be different and this would have possibly never happened. I have never condoned what happened nor will I. Some people are saying I am off my rocker that I think she got what she deserved. Could not be farther from the truth! What I will say is that you cannot treat people like she does and expect to get any respect in return. There are two sides to this and no one wins. I know enough police officers to know her behavior is over the top. The people of the community that do no appreciat the attitude are not all rule/law breakers either. That is a ridiculous statement.

    I have no doubt alcohol inflamed an already explosive situation but she is completely inaffective in the community and has been for a while now. It is just sad that this is the way it came to a head and not in the proper channels. The community needs to rise up and get her off or the security enforcment at the lake by writing letters and attending meetings to express their concern.

    As for her reserve deputy status that again is up to the people to write letters and voice our complaints to the Sherriff's department to help get her more training in how to effectively do her job and maintain the PEACE.. not disrupt the PEACE.(not speaking of the party.. for those of you that will clearly filter and say it was not her that broke the peace at the party)

    This party has never had any issues since I have been at the lake which is before it started happening. The hosts are good law abiding people that now have been tarnished by the actions of a few who cannot control their tempers. I am speaking to both sides of this issue not just the drinkers. Anyone knows you cannot argue with someone that has had too much to drink and you need to just try to difuse the best you can until cooler heads can prevail.

    Thank you Piney for touching on what is the true issue here.. Your comment is greatly appreciated by this reader and lake resident.

    -- Posted by Citezen 66 on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 1:22 PM
  • Thanks Citezen 66!

    The family that hosts the party is pretty much my second family and the fact that they had to deal with all of this is completely unfair. They put so much work into their fireworks show every year and are always so excited about hosting all of their friends every year. The show was just as great as always and this incident tarnished the whole night and basically they feel like all of their hard work went to waste. If you know the family, please shoot them a text or phone call and reassure them that they are greatly appreciated and that their hard work this year was not useless.

    -- Posted by Piney on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 1:53 PM
  • Ed46135 - I never claimed to be at either scene, I just wanted you to stop acting like you knew all the facts. As far as being unable to be a police officer, no, I could, but I would not want to do what they have to do. I will go into a burning building long before I would want to go to a domestic violence scene or one with a bunch of drunks. I have the upmost respect for those that are willing to do the job, whether paid or as volunteers. We would be in a state of total anarchy without them.

    -- Posted by Geologist on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 2:12 PM
  • Maybe Ron Barger could give Denna some pointers on dealing with Heritage Lake residents,he was the best in keeping peace at the lake...I'm sure he would help!

    -- Posted by kubotafan on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 4:34 PM
  • So what really happened? Is there an eye witness here who would like to tell us the real story?

    -- Posted by Viperdove on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 5:43 PM
  • Viperdove,

    Kid drank too much.

    Kid started seizing.

    The EMTs were called.

    Cops came along for support since they were in the area.

    Drunk idiots started being idiots.

    (I didn't first hand see the part where they were harassing/messing with the cop car.)

    Paul beat the crap out of Denna.

    Paul choked Denna out.

    Barry called for help so bystanders pulled her out.

    Bunch of people pinned Paul down.

    (I heard him yelling "My leg is broken!" So I am assuming someone put a bit too much pressure on his leg due to an adrenaline rush. Plus, someone said he was in the hospital with a broken leg the next day.)

    Paul and the other guy were arrested, Paul hospitalized.

    Denna and Barry also hospitalized.

    Barry was sent home that night.

    Denna was air-vaced to St. V's because of internal bleeding, plus broken ribs and possible broken collarbone/shoulder.

    Everyone was a bit freaked out.

    Denna's daughter said today that she is at home recovering.

    -- Posted by Piney on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 7:00 PM
  • The bottom line is this. Whether you agree with the way the cops around Heritage Lake deal with things, or whether you don't, the way Paul and the other man arrested acted was awful. I can attest to the character of both Denna and Barry, and they're wonderful people. And even if they weren't, that still is NO EXCUSE for what Paul did. He'll get time in jail, which he thoroughly deserves. THAT BEING SAID, the rumors flying around about the party are ridiculous. Those that called the EMTs took the responsible course of action. The party happens every year, and every year it is carried out in a responsible manner. The actions of a few drunken idiots DO NOT reflect on others who attended the party or threw the party. There were no drugs at the party, no underage drinking, no illicit activities. It's ridiculous that people are reacting in the way they are.

    -- Posted by HeritageLakeRes on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 7:27 PM
  • Could someone please clarify if the person having a seizure was over the age of 21? Why would anyone attack a person coming to assist a person who was having a seizure because they drank to much? How many adults stood back and witnessed the attack and did nothing??? Shame on you and shame on you for allowing minors to drink! Do the homeowners or adults at this party even consider what would have happened to them if the person having a seizure may have died, no all they care about is getting drunk and having there yearly party! How dare any of you complain about this female officer who came to your home to help this young person, she wears a uniform and makes you abide by the law, again you idiots are not above the law!!!! If you cannot handle your alcohol maybe you should learn to have a non-alcoholic party, but then again over half your so called friends would probably not show up!

    -- Posted by Nurse4life!! on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 10:16 PM
  • 1. The kid was over 21. They always make sure everyone drinking is over 21.

    2. The guy who attacked Denna was kind of known as a trouble-maker. Alcohol did make things worse, but you can't blame everything on alcohol.

    3. There are people at the party that do not drink in order to keep things in line. How dare you blame this on the homeowners! They have been having this party for years and have never ever had an issue before. You (Sherri) are the type of person spreading stupid rumors around tarnishing this household's name. They are not going to discriminate against people and force the party to be alcohol-free just because a couple of bad apples made the worst decision of their lives.

    4. Unless you have been apart of this community and know the issues that have been going on with Denna and the residents out here, do not call us idiots.

    -- Posted by Piney on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 10:43 PM
  • I would like to clarify to Piney, that I am not spreading rumors, a earlier post stated underaged drinking, which was removed! So the person was over 21, that still doesn't make it right to attack a person who responded to a emergency at this home. I do feel people acted like "idiots", to attack another person who came to help a person in need. I am just curious how you would have felt if the person having the seizure had died? Do you not think the homeowners may have been held responsible? Why would you invite a person to a party, knowing he is a "trouble maker"? I applaud Denna, for acting so quickly and responding to the emergency call. I pray that both officer's heal quickly and God gives them the strength to move on from this terrible tragedy. I think people need to remember they are not above the law and to respect our police officers. Just curious "Piney" who should be held responsible for the actions of the people at this party, the so called individuals who were not drinking and were suppose to keep other's in line, or the one's who drank to much and acted inappropriately! We could argue all day about this, but the truth is, to all those that stood by and did nothing or allowed it to escalate to the point of turning on a officer of the law is simply ridiculous! I pray for peace and healing for your community.

    -- Posted by Nurse4life!! on Fri, Jul 6, 2012, at 11:30 PM
  • There are a lot of people that show up to the party that are not necessarily invited. This is a big event and there aren't bouncers there to make sure only the people invited are allowed in. This incident happened at the end of the night, everyone was leaving. I personally was ushering out my friends at the moment things happened and we were pretty much the last of the people there. Everything happened pretty quickly and people did jump in to help once they realized what was actually happening. Why do you seem to think that everyone just stood there while Denna was being attacked. As soon as Barry started yelling for help, probably 10 guys jumped in to help.

    The family knows that they risk something happening when hosting a party. That does not mean that they are in any way responsible for this nor that they are bad people. If you need to blame someone, blame Paul and the other guy. No more, no less.

    -- Posted by Piney on Sat, Jul 7, 2012, at 12:11 AM
  • When so many in a community feel an officer is not doing a good job of relating in a positive, respectful manner to them, then it is time for calmer, mature minds to prevail. Take your issues to the correct "higher ups" and choose a representative who can address the situation by removing the emotional aspect and discuss the problem peacefully.

    Good luck and I hope a solution which appeases everyone involved is forthcoming.

    -- Posted by kbmom on Sat, Jul 7, 2012, at 7:10 AM
  • Property owners who host parties like these are liable for everything that goes on,ask an attorney...

    -- Posted by kubotafan on Sat, Jul 7, 2012, at 2:46 PM
  • Sounds like a few white trash individuals to me. Officers coming out to assist an EMS call and they get harrassed and beat? Pathetic! Sounds like a party of 500 people shouldnt be "hosted" next year. Have some respect for the people who risk their lives to come out and make sure you are safe.

    -- Posted by iumcrn on Sun, Jul 8, 2012, at 6:52 AM
  • Putnams funny paper, I love this paper. This comment thing uses and twist our constitution for the right of free speech and makes it a thing to say and hurt others. This should be illegal.

    -- Posted by etphonehome on Sun, Jul 8, 2012, at 11:28 AM
  • I believe there will be several community residents beginning to speak up now about how they have been treated in light of this sad event. I can only hope something can be done to prevent it from happening again. I totally agree with one of the above posts that Barry could offer some tips to helping the female office be more effective. At this point it will be an uphill battle for her. I believe in respect of law enforcement but there is something to be said for earning respect too. We all need to respect each other and that goes for law enforcement to the people they serve as well.

    Piney has given one of most critical posts to this story and also has a good take on how the community residents feel as well as the fact that this still should not have happened.

    I too know this family and to "blame" them for any of this is a stretch. If you go to a party and drink too much and have to have EMS called it is not their fault.

    If you get drunk and take out your and several others frustrations out on a law enforcement officer the host's did not cause this either. That issue goes way deeper than alcohol. Handled wrong but not the host's fault.

    Hopefully those directly involved with this altercation can learn some valuable lessons needed to live more neighborly lives.

    -- Posted by Citezen 66 on Sun, Jul 8, 2012, at 8:57 PM
  • All I have to say to the residents who are complaining about the policing before this incident is you ain't seen nothin yet. If you thought it was bad before you choked one of theirs out then you're in for a rude awakening. All I'm saying is I'd be making sure I was driving 10 mph under the speed limit and stopping for 30 seconds at every stop sign. Just guessing that there won't be a lot of sympathy for any of you if you get pulled over in the neighborhood.

    -- Posted by hometownboy on Mon, Jul 9, 2012, at 7:54 AM
  • hometownboy. You are absolutely right. Whether she was right or wrong in her approach I fear it will get worse now. It is unfortunate no matter where you live that the actions of one or two affect the masses.

    -- Posted by Citezen 66 on Mon, Jul 9, 2012, at 10:31 AM