Miscommunication let shooting suspect out of jail

Thomas Hardy
Published: .
Updated: .

Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - In a stunning new development, 13 Investigates has learned the suspect accused of shooting IMPD Officer David Moore should have still been in jail.

Thomas Hardy was in jail in December on a theft charge, but notification was never made that he was on parole.

Eyewitness News has learned that the parole agent involved in that mistake has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the DOC investigation.

When someone is arrested, their record is checked. If there is a warrant out for their arrest, they are held for the agency that's looking for them. In Hardy's case, he was on parole. If the Department of Correction had been notified, it's likely he would have been sent back to prison where he's spent much of his adult life.

The takedown was dramatic as 60-year-old Thomas Hardy surrendered to SWAT officers Sunday evening. But Eyewitness News has learned the habitual offender should have been behind bars, not on the street. An apparent bureaucratic miscommunication is to blame.

In 2009, Hardy was released from prison and on parole. Last October he checked in with his parole officer as required. But the next month he was arrested for theft and receiving stolen property. The Indiana Department of Correction was never notified that the ex-offender was in the Marion County Jail in violation of his parole. So on December 21st, after 33 days in jail, he was released.

"In this case, I'm not sure we were aware he'd been arrested," said Doug Garrison, Indiana DOC. "I think what didn't happen was, every month an agent is supposed to check police databases and determine if there have been any new arrests of their offenders. Had he checked, we would have known he'd been arrested on a felony."

Garrison says notification was never made. Marion County Jail officials confirm they didn't notify DOC because they didn't know Hardy was on parole. A jail spokesman says a standard records check on Hardy came back clean. Hardy was supposed to check in with his parole officer again in February.

"I can't speculate about why that wasn't done or be hypothetical about whether that would have been caught when he came in in February. The fact is we weren't aware of it," said Garrison.

Hardy's parole could have been revoked and he might not wave walked free from the lockup late last month. Garrison says what the department does now is "re-emphasize procedures, recognize even the smallest routine and regulation has to be followed or there are potential consequences."

Acquaintances say Hardy was not violent, but a known criminal. He's been convicted ten separate times for felonies, mostly theft and receiving stolen property but also for burglary and drug possession. During the past 27 years, he's spent 19 behind bars.

Meantime, Metro Police Chief Paul Ciesielski says he's confident that Hardy was the gunman who shot Officer David Moore.

Hardy was picked up at around 5:30 pm Sunday in connection with a robbery at a Dollar General store at 1801 South Emerson Ave. about 45 minutes after Officer Moore was shot at a traffic stop that morning.

Where Hardy was arrested Sunday, hiding at a friend's home on Indianapolis Avenue, neighbors knew nothing of him.

"It's kind of scary, this close. I was just bringing my son off the bus now," said one neighbor.

The robbery at the Dollar General store at 1801 South Emerson Ave. is the only current charge Hardy faces, although that is expected to change. Typically he would be able to post bond but since he was on parole at the time, he's being held without bond for the Department of Correction and will remain in the Marion County Jail.

Chief Ciesielski says investigators are proceeding carefully as they build their case against Hardy. He expects a probable cause affidavit to be filed sometime this week.

Officer Moore was part of an IMPD crime blitz when he was shot Sunday.

"They were working very proactively, trying to identify criminals, stolen cars, responding to runs in a very proactive manner," said IMPD Sgt. Paul Thompson.