The drunk driving double standard continues…
Outcry Swift After DUI Charges Against Officer Dropped
Indianapolis, IN. Aug. 20 – Questions about how Indianapolis police have handled a fatal drunken-driving investigation of one of their own officers became that much more pointed Thursday.
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi announced he would drop the most serious charges against officer David Bisard. Why? Because Bisard’s fellow police officers had botched the case.
The reaction was swift — and far-reaching.
An embarrassed Public Safety Director Frank Straub announced that the FBI will be brought in on the case. He also removed a lieutenant from his positions as commander of the department’s hit-and-run unit and coordinator of the multiagency Fatal Alcohol Crash Team.
One victim’s family called the dismissal a "travesty." A legal expert said the police ineptness leaves the public with little choice but to wonder whether the bungled case was more than an accident. And Mayor Greg Ballard has become increasingly frustrated as he seeks answers, as well.
"The people in the city are not the only ones wondering what happened at the scene," Ballard said. "I am, too."
Straub and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Paul Ciesielski repeated their insistence Thursday that Bisard received "absolutely no deference" from fellow officers Aug. 6 after he crashed his cruiser into two motorcycles that were stopped at a light.
The impact of the crash — which occurred while Bisard, 36, was responding to a request for help serving a warrant, with his cruiser’s lights and siren activated — killed Eric Wells, 30, and seriously injured two other riders.
Bisard surrendered after prosecutors learned a blood test had shown his blood-alcohol level was 0.19 — more than twice the level at which an Indiana driver is considered intoxicated.
But that arrest didn’t come until five days after the crash because of the lag in test results. The delay in arresting Bisard drew scrutiny from some — as did the fact that no officers conducted field-sobriety or breath tests of Bisard at the scene.
Or that nobody seemed to suspect Bisard might have been drinking. Officers who interacted with Bisard after the crash have insisted he showed no signs of being impaired.
But more problematic for Brizzi: The officers failed to follow proper procedures in collecting that blood sample — and it was the only evidence that Bisard was intoxicated…
"Everything else can be explained away," said Henry Karlson, an expert on criminal procedure and a professor emeritus at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis.
But add in the mishap with the blood draw by seasoned alcohol-crash investigators, he said, and "there’s only so many mistakes you can make before it starts looking like a plan."
Who will guard the guardians?