DOC: Parole officer to be fired over mistakes in Hardy case

Thomas Hardy

Indianapolis - A parole officer is expected to lose her job over mistakes that led to Thomas Hardy being released from prison.

Hardy has been charged in the shooting of Indianapolis Metro Police Officer David Moore last month. Moore died a few days after being shot at a traffic stop.

The Indiana Department of Correction told Eyewitness News Friday that Billie Ruffner, a 28-year DOC employee, has been suspended without pay pending termination for dereliction of duty. Ruffner has been a parole officer for the last six years.

Ruffner is accused of failing to conduct monthly checks on national police databases, including the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) and JUSTIS, a Marion County database.

She is also accused of not noting that Hardy had been charged with a felony, and not creating a note of revocation and notifying the parole board.

"Humans make mistakes. She made mistakes, she didn't follow through. She didn't follow protocol she should have," said DOC spokesman Randy Koester. "These protocols, these communications, these NCIC and JUSTIS checks are fundamental parole practices."

Eyewitness News reported in January that Thomas Hardy was in jail in December on a theft charge, but notification was never made that he was on parole. If the DOC had been notified, he would have likely been sent back to prison.

Hardy was released on December 21, just over a month before the career criminal is accused of opening fire and killing Officer Moore. While the DOC admits its agent is at fault, they also point to a document which shows, at the time of his release, Hardy was listed as a parolee.

"I don't know what they knew. But they certainly had it in their system, so if they would have checked their system, they would have known he was on parole," Koester said.

The Marion County Sheriff's Department maintains the DOC should have sentence notice that Hardy was on parole and should not have been released.

"We made no mistake in this case. None whatsoever," said Julio Fernandez, MCSD.

Fernandez says the notice was the Department of Correction's responsibility, not the jail's.

"We don't check the system. That's not our job. Our job is to send out the information to the JUSTIS system that this person is locked up," he said.

To those still mourning the death of a young police officer, the bureaucratic details are irrelevant.

"You can't blame anybody for what happened, except the person that actually did it," said police dispatcher Ruth Burr.

After Hardy was arrested, the DOC found more than 1,000 parolees statewide whose status was not up to date. That was immediately corrected. The department is now looking at ways to automate its system so that, in the future, human error is less likely to be a factor.

The investigation found that Officer Moore was shot during the traffic stop before he took his gun out of its holster. Hardy is being held in the Marion County Jail on charges of the officer's murder.