A report by the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety on the David Bisard crash that killed a motorcyclist this summer and injured two others shows a breakdown in police rules and procedure but no conspiracy or intentional cover-up.
The 47-page document is based on interviews with nearly 70 witnesses from all stages in the incident; Bisard was not one of them as he refused to be interviewed. The primary investigation was conducted by the FBI, with IMPD’s internal affairs conducting a parallel investigation.
Here is a breakdown of the findings…
- The accident reconstruction showed Officer Bisard’s vehicle had brake issues which may have played a roll in the crash.
- IMPD failed to properly impound Bisard’s vehicle, instead allowing him to remove some of his personal property from the car.
- Both the Ed Zych of the Marion Prosecutor’s Office and IMPD’s Lt. George Crooks failed to keep the Department up to speed on changes in Indiana’s law regarding blood alcohol draws in crash scenes involving fatalities and police officers. However, the report notes the Department did follow the law as it was written prior to it being amended this Spring.
- Multiple tests were run on Bisard’s blood and each time it came back .19. Each exam followed proper blood draw procedure.
- While former Assistant Chiefs Daryl Pierce and Ron Hicks did communicate with Chief Paul Ciesielski about the crash, neither one of them requested or suggested the Chief or Public Safety Director Frank Straub come to the scene.
- A review of the CVS pharmacy surveillance tape did not show a clerk selling Officer Bisard alcohol.
The report also makes recommendations for the following changes in IMPD policy.
- Require a critical response team and fatal alcohol team to all fatal accidents involving police officers.
- All officers to be taken to Methodist Hospital for treatment regardless of severity, in accidents involving serious bodily injury.
- All officers must submit to a portable breathalyzer test when involved in a crash involving a department vehicle.
- Officers should employ appropriate crime scene management.
A couple of things on how the report was put together. The FBI does not do a report, per se. The agency interviewed witnesses and send the transcripts to the Justice Department which returns a finding of whether there is a civil rights violation or criminal conspiracy. That is still under review, so anyone who has been saying there is a “report” out there was in error.
Secondly, for the conspiracy theorists in the room, for a “cover-up” to work in this case it would involve the complete cooperation of police, medical lab technicians, the prosecutor’s office, multiple witnesses and the FBI. The only thing missing would a book depository, second shooter and a one-armed man. The Mayor’s Office should have done a better job at dispelling the rumor mill without compromising the investigation by explaining how the process would work.
Third, and most importantly, I think the report unveils what a lot of responsible voices have been saying, while most officers do their job, but the policies and procedures of the Department really need to be tightened and training needs to be improved, and trust needs to be re-established. Some people are going to believe what they want, but luckily there are grown ups in the room of all backgrounds and political persuasions who can work together to move the city and IMPD forward.