Demoted officer asks mayor to step in

Robert Turner, defense attorney

Steve Jefferson/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The controversy surrounding an IMPD officer involved in a deadly crash is growing as the investigation into the police response continues. Defense attorneys for the officers punished through demotions are raising new questions.

The attorney for the Metro officer removed from heading up the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team calls it a bad and possibly illegal move. Right after the Officer David Bisard crash, Public Safety Director Dr. Frank Straub removed Lt. George Crooks.

"Lt. Crooks was told not to respond to the scene of the crash by a major," said Ralph Staples, defense attorney.

Staples says half of Crooks' salary for the multi-jurisdiction FACT team is paid by grant money, allowing IMPD to budget only for the other half. Staples says removing Crooks may have been illegal.

Also, a letter on behalf of demoted Metro Assistant Police Chief Darryl Pierce is on the way to Mayor Greg Ballard's desk. Pierce's attorney Robert Turner hopes Ballard will step in after Public Safety Director Frank Straub demoted Pierce and two other high-ranking officers.

"It's just wrong. I am asking the mayor to look at this to possibly to mitigate that damage to these three chiefs," said Turner.

Part of Attorney Robert Turner's letter to the mayor reads, "The FACT team was in charge of the investigation and the accident would have been improper for Pierce to assume control...this is a specialized team that does not answer to IMPD."

On August 6th, Officer David Bisard reportedly crashed his cruiser into two motorcycles, killing one and injuring two others. Pierce is one of several top brass who went to the crash site.

Their bosses first claimed lack of communication and action at the crash scene as reasons for the demotions. Turner wrote, "Assistant Chief Pierce maintained communications with Chief Paul Ciesielski, speaking with the chief eight separate times. Pierce left the scene by directive of Chief Ciesielski."

"It's clear Pierce didn't leave the scene but was ordered away from the scene to attend a meeting," said Turner.

Some Democratic City-County councilors are also concerned about post-crash information. They hope to pass a resolution calling for an investigative committee with subpoena powers.

"There are serious questions that need to be answered and the public's confidence can be improved if we can get those answers," said Brian Mahern (D-City-County Council).

The investigative committee of three Democrats and three Republican councilors would subpeona officers about the police response to the Bisard crash.