FOP votes to rescind support of Bisard legal fees

David Bisard appeared in court Wednesday.
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Members of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police have voted to stop paying the legal bills of fellow Officer David Bisard.

The membership voted following a meeting Thursday evening. The union announced the vote in a release after the meeting.

Bisard will now be responsible for legal fees and costs related to his trial for an August 2010 traffic crash that killed motorcyclist Eric Wells and seriously injured two others.

"This step should not be interpreted as a position regarding Mr. Bisard's guilt or innocence related to any of the pending allegations. Instead, it represents a steadfast commitment to the trust and responsibility amongst our 3,000 active and retired members," the release read.

Bisard's second operating while intoxicated arrest has the rank and file grumbling. That could cost the suspended officer dearly.

Fellow officers who originally gave Bisard the benefit of the doubt say they are disappointed, angry and hurt by his most recent drunk driving arrest. Speaking candidly, but confidentially, they call Bisard an embarrassment and fear his legal bills might break their union.

The FOP expected a spirited debate at Thursday's meeting.

Investigators claim Bisard was intoxicated while on duty almost three years ago when his patrol car ran through a group of motorcyclists, killing one and critically injuring two others. Because of questions surrounding the handling validity of blood tests, the union agreed to pay Bisard's legal bills estimated to reach 100 thousand dollars.

Attorney John Kautzman represented Bisard in court Wednesday on the new charges, looking agitated and not answering any questions.

With the vote by the FOP to stop paying his bills, Bisard might have to pay them himself, find another attorney, or seek a court-appointed public defender.

However, attorneys aren't allowed to simply walk away from a criminal case. They must make their case and explain their reasons to the trial judge. The judge must approve their withdrawal and the client's change of counsel.

Either decision by the judge, by one analyst's account, could result in a court appeal later, or delay the trial by months.

The FOB has 1,500 members. Its president estimates all but about 200 of Indianapolis police officers belong to the union.

Typical meetings attract fewer than 100 members, but more are expected at tonight's meeting.

New charges

Bisard entered a not-guilty plea to the new charges Wednesday. The judge also suspended Bisard's license. Next week, a judge will decide if he can be released on bond or kept in jail.

FOP statement:

"The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #86 was disappointed to learn of the recent arrest and allegations concerning David Bisard. The Indianapolis FOP holds a strong belief in due process for anyone accused of a crime, whether a citizen, an elected official, or a police officer, including David Bisard. A fair and impartial review of alleged criminal activity is critical to our system of justice.

The two alleged crimes against David Bisard filed by the Marion County Prosecutor's Office are separate and distinct. With that said, David Bisard will not receive legal assistance from the Indianapolis FOP for the latest incident. Based upon the facts, he is ineligible to receive it. However, given David Bisard's most recent arrest, the FOP Executive Board will be meeting today to review the facts of this latest incident to determine any impact this may have on any previous obligations the FOP has with David Bisard as a member of this Lodge.

Bisard family statement:

Also Wednesday, Bisard's family released a statement to say they believe his actions in the August 2010 crash were not criminal. Bisard's blood alcohol tested at .19 after that crash but DUI-related charges were dropped, then reinstated, after a series of blunders involving the handling of evidence and the way the test was conducted.

"While we continue to believe that the evidence proves the conduct in 2010 was not criminal, the fact remains that the lives of numerous people have been changed forever. We can only hope that a fair and thorough examination of the evidence through the court process will someday result in additional insight and perspective as the entire community attempts to move forward."