Three top IMPD officials demoted in Bisard investigation

Mayor Greg Ballard at a press conference Saturday afternoon.

Richard Essex/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Three high-level police supervisors are being demoted following a flawed investigation, city officials announced Saturday.

Mayor Greg Ballard, Police Chief Paul Ciesielski and Public Safety Director Dr. Frank Straub say the demotions are a result of a failure to lead and a failure to communicate during the investigation of Officer David Bisard. Bisard struck three motorcyclists, killing one, on E. 56th Street the morning of August 6.

The demotions of Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce, Deputy Chief Ronald Hicks and Commander John Conley are effective immediately.

"Senior leadership failed to recognize the gravity of the situation," Ciesielski said. "As a result of the failure in leadership, today I met with three members of my command staff, who were all present at the scene of the crash that day and removed them from their command positions."

All three men will remain with the department, but will be dropped to their merit ranks of lieutenant. Conley, who had served as commander of the Homeland Security Bureau, has served for 35 years, Pierce has been with the department 30 years and Hicks, 18.

In 2009, Pierce was one of the finalists for the public safety director position that eventually went to Straub.

"We honor their service, but cannot tolerate what happened at that accident scene," said Ballard. "Most on my mind is, obviously, the families having to go through this and to see the investigation botched along the way is very difficult to admit to."

All three men played a role at the scene where Bisard struck three bikers with his police cruiser, allegedly after he had been drinking.

Commander Conley took the lead on the scene and is the one that ordered Officer Bisard taken to a clinic for a blood draw, instead of a hospital as required by state law. The mistake resulted in an inadmissible blood test, which showed the officer's blood alcohol level at .19, which is more than twice the legal limit.

"People should have reported their information up the chain and kept senior officials above them better informed and they should have recognized the gravity of this accident at the time it occurred," said Straub. "Public safety generally, police departments specifically, will only function properly if we have the public trust and the public confidence," Straub said.

Dr. Straub says the accident investigation conducted by the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team - FACT, for short - was done by the book, with one exception.

"The alcohol part of the FACT team was never called to the scene," he said.

Earlier this week, Straub and Ciesielski announced other personnel moves related to the investigation, including removing Lt. George Crooks from the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team.

Follow all the developments in the investigation