Chesterton Tribune



CPD officer found not guilty of 2015 charge

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A Chesterton Police officer was found not guilty on Thursday afternoon of pointing a handgun at his wife during a domestic dispute in their Chesterton home in September 2015.

A six-person jury deliberated for about an hour before voting to acquit Cpl. Joe Kantowski.

The charge--a Level 6 felony punishable by a term of six to 30 months--was filed against Kantowski on Sept. 17, 2015, after his wife, Brandi, told the Porter County Sheriff’s Police that, in the early morning hours, Kantowski had come home agitated, retrieved what appeared to be a handgun from his sock drawer, then gone to the kitchen, where he asked her for her car key. Brandi Kantowksi later advised the PCSP that, when she told him she didn't know where it was, Kantowski pointed a handgun at her chest and asked her again where the car key was.

Kantowski then followed her into the bedroom, took the key from the night stand, and left the residence, Brandi Kantowski advised police.

Kantowski surrendered himself to the CPD later that day and was interviewed by a deputy with the PCSP, which assumed responsibility for the investigation. In that interview Kantowksi admitted “doing some stupid things last night” but was “adamant that he never pointed a gun at his wife as she claims.”

That accusation, on the contrary, was a part of an elaborate plot on his wife’s part to alienate Kantowski from her own family and to besmirch his character during subsequent divorce proceedings, Kantowski’s attorney, Larry Rogers, told the Chesterton Tribune late Thursday.

“Our position, what I told the jury, is that Brandi set Joe up, so that when she left him for another man, he would be the bad guy,” Rogers said. “Joe and Brandi had been married for 17 years and he was very close to Brandi’s brother and her mom and dad.”

According to testimony during the three-day trial, shortly after returning from a family vacation to Branson, Mo., in August 2015, Brandi Kantowski told her husband that she “thought she wanted a divorce,” Rogers said. “That came out of the blue, Joe had no idea, and he asked her what he could do. So they started seeing a counselor and Brandi told the counselor--she did most of the talking--that she believes Joe’s bipolar. They put him on medications.”

Then, hours before the reported incident on Sept. 17, Brandi Kantowski told her husband that “all this time she's been playing around with an college old boyfriend in Virginia,” Roger said.”That’s the first he knew there was another guy.” That news prompted Kantowski to leave their house in the 2400 block of Dakota Street in Chesterton and have a few drinks with his brother-in-law in Kouts, but in the early-morning hours he returned home, with the idea of of taking his wife’s car and driving it to Virginia to confront her lover, Rogers said. It was at that point that the two argued about the car key in the kitchen.

“Brandi initially set Joe up to turn her own family against him by accusing him of mental illness,” Rogers said. “The thing about him pointing a gun at her, that was icing. If she made the allegation, it would knock the legs right out of his having custody of their children after a divorce.”

Rogers added that the jury heard testimony at the trial that Kantowski shows and has shown no symptoms of any bipolar disorder.

Kantowski has been on unpaid administrative leave from the CPD since Sept. 23, 2015.

“It was good day,” Kantowski told the Tribune after the verdict. “I won’t go into specifics but I was pleased with the outcome and Larry (Rogers) did a great job.”

On being placed on unpaid administrative leave, Kantowski noted, “I went back to the Carpenters Union because that's what I did before my police career. And I’ll continue with that for the time being. I’d like to return to the police department.”

Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski, for his part, said that Kantowski “will remain on administrative leave without pay until so otherwise determined by the Police Commission, and that the issue is being consulted with town legal counsel.”



Posted 3/23/2018




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