Chief wants IMPD officer fired over wrecked cruiser

Matthew Elam
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Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - IMPD has suspended an officer accused of trying to cover up his involvement in a minor hit-and-run accident. The police chief wants Matthew Elam fired for allegedly breaking Indiana law and department procedure.

The Marion County Maintenance Garage is typically where police officers bring vehicles to be repaired after an accident. But according to an internal affairs investigation, 40-year-old Officer Matthew Elam failed to do that after his alleged involvement in a hit-and-run accident in his patrol car off duty two months ago.

"Officer Elam left the scene without exchanging information as required by Indiana State Law. Additionally, the investigation determined the officer had his police car repaired with after market parts by a private auto repair shop," said IMPD in a release issued Wednesday.

"It is unfortunate that this kind of attention is being drawn to the police department at this time. It's unfortunate if the allegations are true that that course of action was taken," said Bill Owensby, Fraternal Order of Police.

Officer Elam is a 17-year veteran of the Metro Police Department and a member of the SWAT team. In that capacity he made headlines a few years ago. In an interview with Eyewitness News, Officer Elam talked about an incident during which he was injured and required stitches. He was a member of the SWAT team for 11 years.

"Any time you're on the SWAT team for that long you've got a lot going for you," said Owensby.

But Owensby says Elam, who is not an FOP member, is a victim of poor timing. With public scrutiny of the police department elevated, he said the police chief had no choice but to recommend termination.

"Sometimes we're our own worst enemies and this is unfortunately one of those times when we just seem to be tripping over ourselves," added Owensby.

The case is now at the prosecutor's office for the grand jury.

This isn't the longtime officer's first trouble on the job.

Elam served a 10-day suspension in 2008 following an internal investigation. Internal Affairs officers concluded he was not truthful about an inquiry involving his cruiser, according to sources inside the department.

The Marion County prosecutor has not indicated how long it will be before a grand jury decision would come and declined any more comments.