IMPD investigates off-duty officer crash
INDIANAPOLIS - An Indianapolis woman hopes to walk again after an IMPD officer ran a red light and crashed into her car.
Notice of a pending negligence lawsuit is headed to the city as investigators try to determine why the officer was behind the wheel.
"I pretty much came from almost dead," said Jenny Foster from the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, where she is undergoing intensive therapy.
She feels the pain, but can't remember what happened.
"Just going to try to get on my feet, get back to where I was," she told 13 Investigates.
Witnesses say Foster had the green light Sunday, July 17, as she drove her 61-year-old mother east on 91st Street at Meridian Street.
"He ran the red light and smashed broad side into Jenny Foster's vehicle. Officer Musser had at least four seconds to clear a yellow light before he went through the intersection," said Foster's attorney Mark Ladendorf.
Behind the wheel of the car that hit Foster was 26-year-old Justin Musser, an off-duty Indianapolis police officer.
"It's a case of clear cut liability," said Ladendorf.
Musser told investigating officers his flashlight fell on the floor. He was looking down trying to dislodge it from under his brake pedal when he "T-boned" Jenny's car, pushing it into another stopped vehicle at a light.
"Both these ladies have significant injuries," Ladendorf told 13 Investigates.
"There's a reason I'm still here and I don't know what it is," Foster said. "I've come a long way."
A year after a deadly crash involving Officer David Bisard, new accident policies are now in place. Portable breath tests are required for all police accidents. Officer Musser was given one on the spot. There was no indication of alcohol.
Still, investigating officers took Musser's guns, vest, black police bag and other equipment for safe keeping amid new questions about the officer's use of a police cruiser.
The questions stem back to another crash for the three-year veteran officer. On September 17, 2009, Musser was running lights and sirens passing a line of traffic stopped in the westbound lanes near Fall Creek. A driver didn't see him coming and turned into his path. He hit the car and crashed into a tree suffering minor injuries.
It wasn't the 2009 accident that got him into trouble, but something else investigators discovered. Four days later, Officer Musser received an 11-day suspension without pay for Failing to Obey Rules & Regulations, Failing to Answer Truthfully and for Violating Residency Requirements for his take home car.
IMPD General Orders say "Officers residing outside of Marion County are not eligible to participate in the take-home car program."
Those who violate the policy are permanently banned from take home privileges, even if the officer moves into city limits.
Now, Jenny and her attorney want to know why Musser was behind the wheel of a marked police cruiser, off duty with no take home car privileges?
"I don't really know what's going on with that police officer right now," Foster said.
Police Chief Paul Ciesielski says he has not seen the tort claim alleging negligence. He says it's believed Officer Musser was driving the squad car to a police part time job which would not be a violation.
"I would hope that the city would come out right now and say you know what the police report is against us we are going to accept full responsibility in this case," said Ladendorf.
"Even an apology would have been nice. I didn't even get that," added Foster.
The investigation continues and Jenny Foster and her mom are both hoping to go home next week.