Botched crash investigation leads to shake-up at IMPD
Steve Jefferson/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - The mistakes made in the Officer David Bisard case will lead to some major changes at the Indianapolis Metro Police Department, including personnel.
Officer David Bisard, 36, was involved in a high-speed crash August 6 while driving his squad car. He struck a group of motorcyclists who were waiting at a red light at East 56th Street and Brendon Way, killing 30-year-old Eric Wells and critically injuring two others.
Bisard's blood alcohol content was .19, according to a blood draw taken after the crash. Prosecutors charged the K-9 officer with seven felonies including reckless homicide.
Bisard's attorneys vowed to challenge the blood draw, and on Thursday, all four counts related to Bisard's blood alcohol content were dismissed, leaving three counts against him, including criminal recklessness and reckless homicide.
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said the blood draw is not admissible in court because it was not conducted at a hospital nor was it performed by proper hospital personnel.
"We are embarrassed. We apologize to the family. We apologize to the community," said Dr. Frank Straub, Indianapolis public safety director.
After sincerely apologizing for the admitted debacle in the Officer David Bisard alleged drunk driving fatal crash, Straub outlined some major changes.
They include the officer in charge at the Bisard crash scene.
"Lt. George Crooks is being removed from his position because the investigative process failed," said Straub.
Despite now failed courtroom evidence, prosecutors say K-9 Officer David Bisard drove drunk and had a blood alcohol content of .19 when he hit two motorcycles. It happened on East 56th Street near I-465 where 30-year-old Eric Wells died and two others suffered critical injuries.
Straub now wants federal assistance on the Bisard case "and also to determine early on whether there are federal charges that could be brought against the officer involved in the investigation or anyone else."
In addition to requesting FBI help, Straub removed Lt. George Crooks from the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team. Plus, Metro Police Chief Paul Ciesielski will review and find police officers to work on The Professional Standards Unit, formally internal affairs.
"I have full faith that as the investigation goes forth we will unveil the truth," said Chief Ciesielski.
While police believe they followed protocol in Bisard's case, "the problem is the process wasn't followed," said Straub.
Police admit there is a process that didn't get followed, making prosecuting Bisard a bigger challenge.
Bisard was in court for a hearing about whether he would get to keep his driver's license. Typically a driver's license is revoked when there is a charge involving DUI.
Judge Grant Hawkins had to decide if Bisard's drivers license should be suspended pretrial even though the state didn't have probable cause for intoxication at the scene of the accident. Under implied consent statutes, officers can take blood from a driver involved in a serious bodily injury accident or a fatal accident. But that statute does not say anything about suspending the driver's license before the case goes to trial.
Bisard's attorney argued Bisard's license not be suspended, saying the state was 'cherry picking.'
After the crash, Bisard's attorney argued that "there was no probable cause to believe that (Bisard) was intoxicated, nor to offer him a chemical test, and that the missing probable cause cannot be supplied by the after-obtained blood draw result."
Judge Hawkins agreed that the state provided no probable cause under the statute that would suspend his license.
"Obviously we're pleased with the judge's ruling and we're going to leave it at that and go forth with the case," Bisard's attorney John Kautzman said.
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi was not as pleased. "I am frustrated because there is an appearance, accurate or not, that something was amiss on Friday and I'm not going to sugar coat it," he said. "It is what it is.
"Regardless of what the chief of police said and regardless of what the public safety director said, Mayor Ballard said that someone on scene knew that this person was intoxicated. That strains credibility that no one knew that he was drinking."
Thursday's ruling dealt only with the driver's license, but there is much speculation as to how this ruling will impact further incidents in this case, particularly the blood draw.