DUI Charge Dropped Against Officer Involved in Fatal Crash
August 20, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS — A prosecutor said Thursday he is dropping drunken driving charges against an Indianapolis police officer accused in a crash that killed a motorcyclist because the officer’s blood test wasn’t properly obtained.
“We do not believe it’s admissible,” Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said at a news conference, flanked by the city’s police chief and public safety director.
Officer David Bisard still faces three felony charges stemming from the Aug. 6 crash, including one count of reckless homicide. Brizzi said he was confident Bisard could be prosecuted on those charges without the blood test.
Brizzi said the blood test showing Bisard had a blood-alcohol content more than twice Indiana’s legal limit could not be used as evidence because it wasn’t taken in a hospital by someone legally certified to do so, which is required by state law. Instead, a lab technician drew Bisard’s blood at a clinic where officers generally are taken after they are injured, he said.
“There is no way that blood test is coming into evidence, the way it was collected,” Brizzi said.
Bisard’s attorney, John Kautzman, commended Brizzi for “coming forward early with the candid admission” that the blood test was not done properly.
“Obviously, the failure to follow the appropriate standards and protocols meant that the blood draw result obtained was no longer reliable,” Kautzman said in a statement.
Hours earlier, Marion Superior Court Judge Grant Hawkins ruled there was no probable cause to suspend Bisard’s driver’s license because officers at the accident scene didn’t suspect he was drunk before asking him to consent to the blood test.
Brizzi said he has doubts whether officers trained to recognize signs of intoxication wouldn’t have realized the 36-year-old canine officer was drunk. Asked if he still believed officers hadn’t realized Bisard had been drinking, Chief Paul Ciesielski said only that it would be looked into.
Bisard’s cruiser crashed into two motorcycles stopped at an intersection, killing one man and injuring two other people. A test showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08. Police said Bisard’s car had its lights and sirens on.
Officers at the scene did not give Bisard a breath test, and his blood was drawn more than two hours after the crash. Prosecutors informed officials of the test results Aug. 9 and he was charged Aug. 11.
Public Safety Director Frank Straub said Thursday he had asked the FBI to help the city’s professional standards division look into the handling of the case. He also said the officer in charge of the multi-agency team that investigates fatal alcohol-related crashes in Indianapolis was being relieved of duty.
“We are embarrassed,” he said. “We failed.”
But Straub denied accusations investigators showed Bisard favoritism.
“There was absolutely no deference given to this officer,” he said.
Eric Wells, 30, was killed in the crash and the other motorcycle’s driver and passenger, Kurt Weekly, 44, and Mary Mills, 47, were seriously injured.
Ciesielski has suspended Bisard without pay and is seeking to have him fired.