David Bisard sentenced to 16 years
An Allen County judge has sentenced former Indianapolis Metro Police Officer David Bisard to 16 years with three suspended in connection with a fatal 2010 crash.
Bisard was found guilty earlier this month on drunk driving and reckless homicide charges after slamming his car into a group of motorcycle riders three years ago, killing Eric Wells and critically injuring Kurt Weekly and Mary Mills.
"Obviously, we had requested a lengthier term, but I think the judge appropriately weighed all the circumstances," Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson said.
Before sentencing, Bisard's wife Lora told the court her husband would benefit from treatment, telling the judge, "He's lost his ability to cope." She also said, "He's been very remorseful about this tragedy" "and privately shed many tears."
"Mr. Bisard, would you ever admit to drinking that day as the judge says?" Eyewitness News asked as the former officer walked to a jail van.
Bisard didn't answer that question as he left the courthouse, but he did speak for the first time in court.
Before he was sentenced, Bisard told the judge he's a "flawed person. Remorseful, sorrowful, apologetic."
He admitted he was speeding and looking down at his computer when he crashed into the motorcyclists, but said he was not drunk.
"I wake up every morning knowing I was responsible for taking the life of one man and injuring two others," Bisard said in court.
Bisard must serve 13 of the 16 years and must undergo alcohol abuse counseling. Judge John Surbeck gave Bisard the longer term because he doesn't believe can help himself until Bisard admits he was drunk that day.'
"There was some level of remorse that I saw, I think there was some level of contrition. I just didn't see an acceptance of responsibility," said Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson.
Robinson said Wells' father Aaron "put it best leaving the courtroom (when he said) they were going back confident that justice had been served."
"It's been a very difficult three years," Aaron Wells said after sentencing. He says justice was done, but "to sit there in the courtroom and deny being drunk...pretty sad, pretty sad."
"I'm still a mom and I had to leave it in the judge's hands. I would have liked to have seen a little more, but I think he was very fair," said Wells' mother, Mary. "We will move on. We will be able to heal now and that is important for us as a family."
"I think they were satisfied. It's appropriate," said George Burt, one of the crash witnesses, when asked how the families of the victims reacted to the sentence.
Bisard will have a pre-trial hearing on a second drunk driving arrest December 17. Robinson says if he is found guilty in that case, the misdemeanor charge carries a maximum sentence of one year, which would be served consecutively, by law.
The hearing got underway over an hour late Tuesday, and the judge heard two contrasting viewpoints about David Bisard: one, of a former police officer who would benefit from therapy, and another view, from his victims and their relatives, of a man who showed little remorse for his actions.
Dr. Stephen Ross, forensic psychologist, said he believes Bisard has an alcohol abuse problem, based on Bisard's own admissions and other evidence. Ross said during interviews, Bisard broke down discussing the fatal collision in 2010.
"I found genuine remorse. This is a man who is going to need intense treatment. He needs it now," Ross testified.
Ross found Bisard unable to cope with the trauma from his response to the gruesome murder of two mothers and their two babies on Hovey Street in 2008. He also cited a gun fight with a bank robber that Bisard shot and killed on the south side of Indianapolis.
Fellow IMPD officer Daniel Ryan says Bisard saved his life in a gun fight. "He was very dedicated to Indianapolis and the people of Indianapolis. He took crime personally," he said.
But Judge Surbeck found there were programs to help Bisard, but he didn't use them.
"Mr. Bisard has his appeal right to consider," Bisard's lawyer John Kautzman said.
Kautzman said he believes the sentence was double what he felt should have been imposed.
"What he wants to do is honor the court's order, immediately start his sentence, roll up your sleeves and get into the treatment and therapy that he needs as a result of the last few years since the collision," Kautzman said.
Crash victim Mary Mills testified she is in constant pain and discomfort. She said her doctors "tell me to get use to it, because it is only going to get worse."
Mills wants Bisard to stay in jail "until he accepts I acknowledges it, until he understands it. He needs help."
Kurt Weekly thanked the judge and offered no recommendation, saying he trusted Judge John Surbeck to do the right thing.
Mary Wells, Eric Wells' mother, testified, "My son had his freedom ripped away by David Bisard." "There is no sentence it long enough" "if only as a reminder of when he did to Eric and how he has destroyed my life."
Lucinda Wells, Eric Wells' wife, would like to see Bisard serve extended time in prison.
"I don't see any remorse from the defendant. I don't feel he's remorseful. He's still in denial," she said.
Bisard announced Monday that he is resigning from the police department. Chief Rick Hite wanted to fire him, but the recommendation wasn't set to go before the review board until next month.
Prosecutors argued Bisard should be held to a higher standard - and therefore his punishment should reflect that.
"I would anticipate we would ask for executed time above advisory for B felony. Advisory is ten years. And what the court will be required to do is add mitigating factors and aggravating factors to decide whether the final sentence should be below that advisory or above that advisory of ten years," said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry before the sentencing.