DUI counts against IMPD officer dropped

Public Safety director Frank Straub with Chief Ciesielski, left

Sandra Chapman/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Several charges were dropped Thursday against the Indianapolis Metro Police officer charged in a deadly crash. Prosecutors say the blood test that showed him legally drunk cannot be used in court against him.

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi says the DUI blood test which showed that Officer David Bisard had a blood alcohol content of .19 was not done properly, and now he has to drop several charges against the officer.

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. The DUI-related charges were dropped, but two were added.

Bisard is still charged with reckless homicide and two counts of criminal recklessness after he slammed into the back of two motorcycles.

"The system failed. Our investigation failed. We are embarrassed. We apologize to the family. We apologize to the community," said Dr. Frank Straub, public safety director.

It was a stunning admission by the city's top public safety chief, and it came after Officer David Bisard left court free to get behind the wheel again.

Judge Grant Hawkins ruled Bisard could keep his driver's license. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi blames the snafu on the investigating officers who were on the scene of the deadly crash where Eric Wells died and two others were injured.

"Obviously we're pleased with the judge's ruling and we're gonna leave it at that," said John Kautzman, Bisard's attorney.

"I am frustrated because there is an appearance, whether it's accurate or not, that something was amiss," said Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

Hours later at a hastily called news conference, Brizzi and Straub announced an FBI investigation and that four DUI-related charges against Bisard would be dropped. They said the blood was not drawn by a certified medical official, a mistake that could have been avoided if the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team had taken Bisard to a hospital for the draw.

"We believe that the crime lab's analysis was accurate," said Straub. "So we're not calling into question the science. The process is what we're calling into question."

"As a result of that, all of the counts in the charging information that are directly related to the blood alcohol content of .19 will be dismissed by state's motion," said Brizzi.

Bisard still faces three felony counts, the most serious, reckless homicide, and two counts of criminal recklessness.

Now Chief Ciesielski, once convinced his officers did not observe any clues Bisard was intoxicated, isn't so sure.

"I'm saying I have full faith in the investigation as it goes forward will unveil the truth," said the chief.

As a result of the botched investigation, the commander of IMPD's DUI unit has been removed, and Metro Chief Paul Ciesielski will review and search for talented police officers to be reassigned to the Professional Standards Division.

Public Safety Director Frank Straub also discussed the need to address issues of excessive force leveled against IMPD. "Integrity, professionalism and respect are the hallmarks of this department," he said "We will not tolerate, we will not accept, this conduct, excessive use of force, corruption or any disrespectful conduct to the citizens of this city."

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