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The People v. David Bisard

For the past few days I’ve been trying to get my arms around the decision by the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police to pay for the legal defense of David Bisard.    We all know the story, Bisard is accused of reckless homicide for killing one motorist and injuring two others back in August.   Although he did not show any signs of intoxication at the scene, it was later discovered his blood alcohol content level was 0.19.

FOP President Bill Owensby says the organization voted to defend Bisard because he’s entitled to due process.  When asked about the BAC test Owensby said it didn’t come up in discussions and had Bisard been charged with OWI, he would not have received representation.  He pointed to the city’s report of the Bisard case that noted more than five dozen witnesses did not notice any sign of impairment by Bisard.  He then went on to say the FOP is not defending Bisard’s actions, but making sure he has due process.

I understand the point of the FOP, like any professional organization, is to defend its members who are accused of wrongdoing in the course of their duties.  But I can’t understand for the life of me why the FOP would want to take on something this toxic, particularly when the organization has a choice.

The FOP did not defend officer Candi Perry who was accused last year of  concealing information regarding a homicide.  Perry was later exonerated.  The FOP did defend Jerry Piland who was accused of using excessive force against Brandon Johnson.  I can understand the Piland decision because there was an issue about whether the force was excessive, but David Bisard, I can’t grasp.  Yes, everyone is entitled to due process, but that doesn’t mean you have to foot the bill for their day in court.

In addition, in the back and forth public relations war between the FOP and Public Safety Director Frank Straub, the defense of Bisard doesn’t score any points in the eyes of the public.   Owensby did tell me that the membership could come together and vote to revoke Bisard’s representation.  No word yet on whether that will happen.

You can hear my entire 12-minute interview with Owensby from this morning by clicking below.

Bill Owensby Interview

  • Anonymous

    Pretty simple really: From the four corners of the charging information there is no admissible evidence of intoxication, no charges related to intoxication, and clearly in the scope of his duty even if you disagree about whether it was necessary to use lights to get to non-emergency situation. Everything in the record calls for a defense by FOP.
    I just don’t see any possible way that this results in a conviction without the ACE results.

  • http://twitter.com/IndyStudent Matthew Stone

    I’ll just say what I posted on Facebook. Owensby is right that Bisard is entitled to due process. However, Ownesby is trying to make the connection between due process and the FOP paying his legal fees, something that Bisard is not entitled to.

  • Pam Oliver Sass

    My fault for not knowing this was coming up for a vote Thursday. My fault for being out-of-state anyway. That being said, had I been able to go to the FOP meeting you can bet I would have voted against legal representation for Mr. Bisard. There should be a better way to vote that doesn’t penalize an officer who can’t make it to the business meetings. It does not surprise me Mr. Bisard was able to get 100 out of 1700 officers to vote in his favor. I am sure he still has friends on the department and I know there are those who voted in favor just to show their displeasure with the way the department is being ran. The first contract vote showed that. I hope the public sees this was a vote by less than 10% of the department that sided with Mr. Bisard. Had we been able to vote the same way we responded to the FOP’s recent “How happy are you” survey I’m sure the vote would have been different. I am sick that my dues are being used to represent Mr. Bisard. He was acting out of the scope of his job on that day. Due regard for the safety of others? No where close. His cowboy actions killed one and forever changed the lives of two others. Mr. Bisard, I’m sure you, Mr. Kautzman and Mr. Brizzi can come up with a nice plea arrangement. Take it. Save yourself, the department and the city anymore embarrassment. It just might also save some of the FOP’s legal defense fund some money to represent officers in the future who are truely entitled to and worthy of it.

  • concerned citizen

    hmmm..a friend of mine was pulled over for a DUI within days after this incident. The cop said that he initially pulled him over because the license plate light was burned out, but amazingly, when another friend came along to pick up the car, he pointed out to the officer that the light was in fact working. The cop just shrugged it off and stated that it was burned out when he pulled him over.

    Yeah, right.

    My friend was administered a breathalyzer and blew a .07. He was then taken to the station where he blew a .08, and was then arrested. This was his first offense, but he lost his licence for one year and has to perform I believe 200 hours of community service. There may have been a fine involved, as well.

    I love how the common man can have their life turned upside down, but a cop can plow over, kill, and maim folks and he is still walking around, oh and even better, still driving. I used to give money to the FOP years ago, and they happened to call my house last night. I didn’t answer for fear of what might come out of my mouth. I hope they don’t call again.

  • Think Again

    Concerned, you sound like a civil libertarian. I admire that. I’m amused when folks employ selective indignation regarding civil rights. Alcohol abuse seems to be the fulcrum on which we judge the need for civil rights. It just amazes me.

    Your friend was driving drunk. Period. Was there probable cause to pull him over? Probably not, but: the traffic stop could’ve saved a life. Your friend’s, for sure, and maybe others. The civil rights argument is a delicate balance the police use every hour of every day. They get it right most of the time.

    Abdul: kudos for the Owensy interview this morning. You tried, but he didn’t budge. Again, I’ll say:

    The FOP has every right to throw their money in the street or throw it at lawyers. Owensby is standing on a firm civil rights platform: his fellow officer has a right to a strong legal defense. All Americans do. In fact, you’d better hope he has a strong legal defense, lest he later claim otherwise, and potentially trigger an appeal on grounds of inadequate or bad defense. Those appeals are almost automatic. And costly in time and money, for us.

    I donate every year when the FOP calls my house. Which, by the way, violates the no-call list statutes, but I don’t care. The FOP made a choice when they voted to spend their money (and donors’ money too—??) to Mr. Bisard’s legal defense.

    So I get to make my paltry choice when I get that next call.

    Officer Sass made some cogent observations about the cowboy attitude. The public supports her view, overwhelmingly.

    Tred lightly, FOP. Not all citizens are as understanding as I am regarding the protection of our civil rights. It can’t be explained in a 10-second soundbite, so it will bite you in the ass.

    And please: stop with the “bad blood test” already. The certification of the test-administrator is in question. The test administrator’s competence, or the ensuing results, are not in question.

    Nice Jimmy Voyles impersonation, though.

    Don’t hate Owensby. He’s doing a valuable job. He’s potentially protecting taxpayers from a very expensive and time-consuming appeal.

  • pascal

    It is a rule of discourse that you can’t have it both ways? Contra the assertation that we all know the story-that statement is not true. It is false. It could very well be just a story. We do not have the testimony of the Officer (and some complain bitterly about that) and so are faced with that mighty thin pancake what don’t have two sides.

  • http://twitter.com/IndyStudent Matthew Stone

    “I donate every year when the FOP calls my house. Which, by the way, violates the no-call list statutes, but I don’t care.”

    It’s my understanding that the FOP got an exception carved into the state law. They fall under “charitable organizations”, which are still allowed to make these calls. According to this article (http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20101205/NEWS01/12050339/Donations-to-Indiana-State-Fraternal-Order-of-Police-enriching-telemarketers), the FOP contracts out to a Muncie call center to make the calls.

  • spotlight

    Perry was only exonerated because when giving a statement the recorder wasn’t turned off and someone was heard in the background saying how he’d like to “hit that.” When it was turned over to the prosecutor’s office they heard it and said do you really want to use this statement?
    She and her attorney knows she’s in the wrong. that’s why they wont press the issue any further. it just went away. after the public announcement she was “cleared”

  • Think Again

    Someone actually said “hit that” ? Who? Representing what entity at the hearing?

  • IndyHardR

    Typical lawyer speak. A whole bunch of words and only another scumbag lawyer can understand what the hell they are saying.This post reminds me of one of Ballards speeches. A lot of mumbeling and nothing really being said. Keep it up Pascal,keep listening to TA and maybe you will learn to speak Hoosier.

  • Think Again

    I wasn’t aware Pascal was a lawyer. So you think I speak Hoosier, huh?

    I read it three times and I don’t get it either, HardR. But it was a rough weekend. I’m still a little groggy.

    “Contra the assertation…” What? Did you mean “assertion” ?Either word works but damn, are you sleeping with a dictioanry?
    In normal conversation, you don’t get extra genius points, for using a word that’s bigger than the preferred word.

    I think you’re trying to say that the printed news accounts to date, may be inaccurate.

    See how much easier that was?

  • Lawstunna01

    Shabazz check your FB email. I sent you a message.

  • pascal

    I guess you guys need pablum or some better cure for your government schooling. Assert as a word only works partially. Assertation does that partial work and also carries the conotation that what is being asserted is done often without proof or evidence. The difference between a bold assertation and a bold faced lie is marginal. And, yeah, bold statements are a lawyer’s trick picked up in law school-if you sound confident enough of your position you can sway sheep. Bold assertations at the beginning of this thread resulted in a lot of bah, baahs.
    The Indianapolis Star usually gets it wrong. Anyone who would rely upon them for matters factual impairs his argument and his mind. What is wrong about the FOP defending one of their own is that they are the only ones who seem to see a high-tech lynching in progress.

  • Lawstunna01

    Further, I was at this particular meeting. Though I know much of the public reads this blog. I want it to make it known that everyone did not vote in agreement. I for one voted in the negative. However, with the being said. I respect where Eric Wells Mom is coming from. Although there is nothing more we can do for her son, as well as the other victims on this day. We must make this right!
    I agree Bisard should is do Due Process like any other citizen. So many people are prosecuted by the Media before their court case etc. However, I do not believe the FOP should be footing the bill. If this is the case, then the FOP should represent any charge/claim against any Officer whether they are black or white-another discussion for another day. I will reserve several comments that I have for a coffee group, but when I left that meeting. The taste I had in my mouth was one amazement, disgust, anger, frustration and surprised.

  • Think Again

    I don’t get it. Why were you amazed, Stunna?

    It’s their money. They have the right to use it however they want. It could’ve stayed relatively quiet, but they chose to make it public. They’ve got to accept the public’s attitude about that decision.

    Sounds like they did an adult thing. Bisard needs a good lawyer. . I hope he has one. The best he can find.

    Because when the BAT results are conclusive, as in this case, he needs to go to jail. That is less-likely to happen if he doesn’t get proper legal representation. Appeals take forever.

    Sixty-some people saw him and didn’t think he was drunk? Really, FOP? This is the leg you want to stand on? Why not just take your vote and quietly defend the guy, without fanfare. Why do you insist on rubbing everyone’s nose in it? The FOP is a private organization. We don’t know all your inner-workings, and frankly, we don’t need to.

    FOP, you bought trouble by announcing this vote and then rushing out to defend it with limp logic.

    Regardless how many folks saw Bisard that day, one person took his blood. That one person’s test results are conclusive beyond all doubt. A technicality disqualifies the test, but IMPD saw fit to publicize the results anyway.

    “Four corners of charging information”? Please.

  • get the facts

    TA guess you missed the story in the Star this past weekend. All kinds of problems at the department of toxixology. You really think those tests are conclusive beyond all doubt? you live in a fantasy world. yes there is science. when donr properly those test are extremely accurate. but, still no 100%, but close enough. then there is the human factor. mistakes can easily be made. and many have. there are gonna be a whole lot of BAC results thrown out because of the problems down there.

  • Guest
  • IndyHardR

    TA, Thanks I thought that maybe I had gotten a wiff of one of Abduls cigars and visited ga ga land for a while. Your bouts with Pascal are epic entertainment.

    TA as far as Hoosier speak, it’s an intangable talent that is hard to pin down.But there is logic behind the words.Hell I dont know,it just sounded cool when I wrote it.

  • IndyHardR

    WOW Issues?

  • John Howard

    As I understand the no-call law, the not for profits must use their own staff not hired callers.

  • Think Again

    I didn’t miss it. I read it. Old news

    The test was accurate. Get over it.

  • Think Again


    Ever read Kin Hubbard’s “Abe Martin” series of books? Priceless Hoosier-isms.

    But there’s a different kind of Hoosier-ism. It’s really more Appalachian, poor white rural America 1930s. Things such as:

    Subject-verb agreement (“We was”) (“We seen it”)
    Long vowel sounds. (Feesh, Deesh, Weesh, Boosh, Poosh)
    Making anything plural with an apostrophe. Ugh.

    It’s quaint in some settings. In others, it’s just embarrassing.

    Then there’s Pascal-speak. Unique.

    In the English Common-Law system, some barristers were paid by the word. Sadly, too many of them still think that’s the coin/realm way to write and speak.

  • Think Again

    I only know that they call every year. I give. I won’t any more. They’ll survive just fine without my $50. They make choices. So do I.

  • johnny

    in your expert opinion what makes this one test more accurate than the others? did you administer it yourself?

  • Karenk928

    Ummmmm….I think that story was about the STATE lab not the Marion Co. lab where Bisard’s test was done. As far as I know they are two separate entities and no recent allegations have been made against the Marion county lab.

  • concerned citizen

    TA, I’m not all that much into politics, so I don’t know if civil libertarian is the correct call or not. It may be. First, I’ve only read this blog for the last couple of months, so that was my first post…vent, really. Second, I always get a chuckle out of your posts, so I truly come in peace.

    I know from the sound of my post that you may think I’m a cop-hater. Quite the opposite, actually. I truly appreciate and respect the hard work these folks do day in and day out…I know the good ones far outnumber the bad ones. Again, the article just caught me the wrong way and yes, I agree the FOP can support whoever they wish, but the way the went about it…well…

    Yes, my friend was impaired. Well, he was .07 initially, under the legal limit, but just to make sure they had another arrest to add for the night, they took it again on a different machine, which they finally got their .08. Ok, I’ll let that rest.

    My vent probably also stems from a night in which my partner and I were leaving a friend’s house late one night in Zionsville. We pulled over just before getting on 465 to switch drivers as my contacts felt like saran wrap in my eyes. As we were changing drivers, lights from a Sheriff’s car pop on and here they come. Long story short, the one guy was professional and polite, but the other guy, well, he was a complete a-hole to us. Gave us breathalyzers, which didn’t register anything. He was so peeved that he made us do it again. Still, nothing. He begrudgingly let us go.

    I’m sorry for the second (and third) vent session. Whew, I am actually pretty tired after all this b*tching. Thanks for reading, not that you had a choice. ;)

  • MH

    You can have your opinion, but not your ‘fact’ that he is not entitled to the FOP paying his legal fees. I’m not advocating whether or not he should have them or not, and I imagine a re-vote of a larger body of members in a subsequent meeting would negate the request for representation. However, he was able to make it happen due to the by-laws. For now.

  • Copswife

    fop 86 doesnt make calls to solicite money

  • robert

    the marion county lab has been in trouble for years. and all BAC’s or administered by the indiana university department of toxicology.

  • spotlight

    i stand corrected. marion county is the only county that does their own BAC test.

  • Cope

    He wasn’t acting within the scope of his duty as a police officer. He was operating his police cruiser recklessly and in an unsafe manner. Under state law, police officers are required to operate emergency vehicles with due regard to safety.

    This is similar to an officer who hits a suspect with a nightstick. If he hits the suspect once or twice and the suspect drops, the officer is in the scope of his duties since police officers sometimes need to use force to effect arrests. If the officer strikes the suspect repeatedly in the head, even after the suspect has stopped moving, the officer isn’t acting within the scope of his duties because deadly force is not authorized against compliant, non-threatening suspects.

  • gorgepeterson

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  • Anonymous

    He stressed that the city BISARD that more than five dozen witnesses did not see any signs of weakness BISARD case report.

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