David Bisard pleads not guilty to DUI

David Bisard's mug shot from April 27, 2013

Suspended IMPD Officer David Bisard pleaded not guilty to new charges in a weekend arrest for drunk driving.

Wednesday marked Bisard's first appearance for two charges, one for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and a second more serious charge of driving with a blood alcohol content almost three times the legal limit to drive. Police arrested him in Lawrence Saturday afternoon after Bisard struck a guardrail and knocked over a speed limit sign while driving a pickup truck.

Bisard appeared for a quick court hearing Wednesday morning at the City-County Building.

Sheriff's deputies escorted Bisard, who wore orange jail clothing and shackles, into court while attempting to keep a crowd of reporters at a distance.

It was a satisfying sight for victims closely following Bisard's legal odyssey for nearly three years.

George Burt saw his friends run over by Bisard's police car in 2010.

"You don't see the cockiness he had before. The thought, 'I'm above this,'" said Burt.

Mary Mills, another victim of the August 2010 crash, said Bisard appeared less confident compared to previous court appearances connected to that crash, which left Mills' husband Kurt Weekly with brain damage and took the life of their friend Eric Wells.

"The arrogance isn't there. I didn't see the arrogance. Like he would sit in court an clean his nails, like this was a bother to him. I didn't see that arrogance," she explained.

During the short hearing, Bisard pleaded not guilty to two counts of driving while intoxicated. He didn't argue with a court order issued at the prosecutor's request to keep him in jail and off the streets.

"We believe he poses a danger to the community," said Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson.

Bisard's weekend accident and drunk driving arrest occurred while the suspended IMPD officer was free on bond, with a valid driver's license, while awaiting trial on other alcohol-related charges.

He's accused of driving while intoxicated while on duty, killing one motorcyclist and seriously injuring two others.

Mary Mills nearly died in the 2010 crash and still has difficulty walking.

"I rather expected another incident. I didn't think it would be this soon. I'm really glad that nobody was hurt in that one. I just think about that guardrail, that sign, could have been - as somebody puts it - a lady walking a baby in a stroller. Could have been somebody jogging down the street or walking their dog. So I'm glad it was a guardrail rather than somebody else," she said.

Judge Linda Brown suspended Bisard's driver's license for six months, and sent him back to jail where he will wait for now two separate criminal trials.

Bisard did not reply to reporters' questions on the way to and from the courtroom.

Because of all the publicity surrounding the 2010 incident, Bisard's upcoming trial will be held in Fort Wayne. He's charged with DUI, criminal recklessness and recklessness homicide in that case.

The Allen County trial judge temporarily revoked Bisard's $10,000 bail. A hearing is scheduled next week to determine whether to set a new, higher bail with alcohol monitoring and other conditions or keep Bisard in jail until the October hearing.

New law for blood draws

He told police at the scene of Saturday's single-vehicle crash in Lawrence that he had been drinking for hours and, according to police reports, he even told the nurse drawing his blood at Wishard Hospital, "There will be alcohol in there."

He was right.

A new law for drawing blood to test for alcohol in suspected drunk drivers is at the center of upcoming hearings involving the suspended IMPD officer whose case brought about the law.

We have seen Bisard ushered in and out of Marion County courtrooms for months. A series of legal maneuvers and mishandled evidence have kept him just out of reach of the long arm of the law - or at least out of jail - until now.

When Bisard had his blood taken after a 2010 accident that killed motorcyclist Eric Wells and seriously injured two others, the test was thrown out. At that point, only certain nurses, doctors and EMTs could draw blood that will be used as evidence and those people are not always available.

With Bisard in mind, state lawmakers have come up with a new law to keep such incidents from happening again, according to Senator Jim Merritt.

"Many, many cases have been thrown because of blood tests," Merritt said.

Because time is so critical when conducting blood tests after a crash, the new law allows for any properly-trained doctor, nurse, EMT or police officer to draw blood for evidence at the scene of an accident.

"If he or she is qualified to do so, can take the blood alcohol content test right there," said Merritt.

However, it does not allow for officers to take blood from another police officer from the same department.

Case background

In the August 2010 case, botched procedures led to the DUI charges being thrown out, then reinstated, and problems with the storage of blood evidence - along with the handling of the case itself - led to an overhaul at IMPD. Eric Wells died in the 2010 crash and Kurt Weekly and Mary Mills had life-changing injuries. Bisard's trial for that crash is scheduled for October 2013.

After Saturday's crash, which did not involve any other vehicles, Lawrence Police say Bisard's face was red, his balance was unsteady and his movements were slow when they responded to the crash scene. The responding officer also noted Bisard's eyes were bloodshot and glassy.

Bisard reportedly begged the arresting officers to let him go, and if they did he promised never to drink alcohol again. He also said his life would be over if he went to prison.

Reporters Rich Van Wyk, Jeremy Brilliant and Richard Essex contributed to this report.