INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – An Indianapolis police officer is accused of going too far and crossing the line that separates parental discipline from the crime of felony battery.

IMPD placed officer Derek Ethridge on administrative leave. The 29-year-old is charged in Hancock County with battery resulting in bodily injury to a person less than 14 years of age.

Prosecutors say three weeks ago, when his children were his visiting his home, Ethridge hurt one of them, spanking her so hard and frequently, that a relative took photographs showing severe dark bruising.

Ethridge agreed to be interviewed by Greenfield police and a Department of Child Services worker. According to the probable cause affidavit, he told them his nine-year-old had gone to bed, but did not want to go to sleep and started screaming loudly and thrashing, hitting her sister who was in bed.

Ethridge admitted spanking her once and then 20 minutes later. Derek said that he rolled her over and spanked her again 2-3 times with an open hand and that he had spanked her three different times in that hour.

“We are certainly sensitive to the idea of parental discipline and don’t want to intrude all of the time,” said Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton.

But this time, according to Eaton, the circumstances went beyond parental rights.

“You can see there was not one incident or two incidents and he kind of went back multiple times and the injuries would be able to prove at trial,” Eaton added.

Investigators also interviewed the nine-year-old girl.

According to the probable cause, she told them her dad is strong, he goes to the gym all the time, he thinks it’s soft when he hits her but he does not know how hard he hits. She went on to tell them her dad told her he was sorry during a phone call, but she did not accept it.

If convicted of felony battery, Ethridge would face the possibility of jail time and under Indiana law would be prevented from serving as a law enforcement officer.

His initial hearing is scheduled for May 6.

Courtesy of WTHR