Baptist ministers' alliance takes concerns to mayor


Rich Van Wyk/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A family looking for justice says they feel cheated after drunk driving charges against an IMPD officer were dropped.

Officer David Bisard is accused of crashing into two motorcycles and killing Eric Wells.

"Anger was the first thing that came out. The police up there are giving him the opportunity to resign. My brother didn't get the opportunity to leave willingly and I don't think he should either," said Ryan Wells, brother of Eric Wells.

A group of ministers agrees. They took their concerns to the mayor's office Friday morning. It's part of the public outcry after the prosecutor's announcement.

About 15 African-American preachers and politicians of the Baptist Ministerial Alliance arrived at the City-County Building unannounced asking for a meeting with Mayor Greg Ballard to voice their concerns and to look for answers.

The group's focus is public safety, and among their demands is an evaluation of the recently appointed police chief and director of public safety.

"People are not real happy with our police department," said Rev. Stephen Clay. "Can the police police the police? Both sides, both black and white, are saying no. So it's an issue. Trust has eroded. The community does not trust the police to do their job. We join the family and others who say there needs to be federal oversight to serve as lead investigation."

The group also says the FBI should lead, not assist, in the investigation. They also want performance reviews of Public Safety Director Frank Straub and Police Chief Paul Ciesielski, questioning their ability to bring safety and integrity to the department.

The alliance didn't get to meet with Mayor Ballard Friday morning, but they did have a cordial face-to-face with his chief of staff, Chris Cotterill.

"The mayor, as we've seen, has a steady hand on these things. He does not immediately react to the winds of the day. He's trying to implement changes that will be here for the long-term. We've tried to do that with our diversity task force in the public safety arena. We've done it with a number of private conversations with many of the people who are standing behind you and we'll continue to do so," said Chris Cotterill, mayor's chief of staff.

The ministers left after agreeing that both sides should meet at a later date to discuss concerns and look for possible answers.

But people are losing patience. A Facebook page "demands justice and no special treatment for Officer Bisard."

"This is a disgrace...and once again, the system has failed," wrote one poster.

"Absolutely absurd...and our government wonders why the people don't trust them?" wrote another.

Reaction was similar on the streets of Indianapolis.

"No, I don't trust the police anymore," said retired teacher Damon Davis.

"Just because of this one incident, I don't think that can carry over for every police officer, can it?" said retail worker Joe Guffey.

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