Thursday, August 12, 2010

Did Officer Bisard Get Special Treatment?

When a criminal situation occurs, or something that looks like it could be a criminal act, law enforcement officers have the duty to fully investigate the crime scene and what took place there. That includes detaining those accused of committing the crime for questioning, witnesses for testimony, and so on.

Officer David Bisard was involved in an accident involving two motorcycles. One of the motorcyclists, Eric Wells, died. The other two motorcyclists, Kurt Weekly and Mary Mills, are in stable condition but have suffered severe injuries.

Bisard was not detained at the scene, and his BAC wasn't taken until two hours after the accident occurred, and he drew a 0.19, more than twice the legal limit. An initial report from WTHR a few hours after the incident quoted Officer Brian Dixon implying that it was the motorcyclists' fault for not getting out of the way:

"Witnesses say the motorcycles kind of just stood still, not sure of which way to go, and the officer struck the motorcycles in the rear while trying to avoid this," said Officer Brian Dixon.

The lane the motorcycles were in also had a car in front driven by Tim Griffith, according to The Indianapolis Star. It is entire unrealistic to expect four vehicles to move to the side of the road while stopped at a traffic light.

If you or I drove our car as Bisard is alleged to and got into an accident involving several vehicles, there is no doubt in my mind that any other person would've been hauled to jail to be detained for questioning for a few hours at the very least. It took until Wednesday for Bisard to get to that point, and he didn't even spend a full hour in jail. Additionally, normal citizens don't get the benefit of a spokesperson to play the blame game.

That being said, I am not a "police state" believer. I don't believe, as Griffith's lawyer seems to, that there was a conspiracy at hand to shift the blame, and any failure to administer field sobriety tests can be attributed to the lack of obvious signs of impairment. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi filed several charges in relation to this case, including operating a vehicle while under the influence causing death and reckless homicide. And The Indianapolis Star is reporting that his license may be suspended, which makes me feel a bit easier since he is out on bail. While there was some things that did happen in the early part of the investigation that, in my opinion, shouldn't have happened, the process seems to be working now.

On a final note, please keep Kurt Weekly, Mary Mills, Eric Wells, and their respective families, in your prayers.

UPDATE: While writing this, it turns out I'm not the only one who had questions about how this all worked out. The Indianapolis Star has an article with some quotes from some of the victims' families. Police union president Bill Owensby is raises the possibility that blood vials might have gotten mixed up. This article also explains that two hours for a BAC test is normal, so now I feel a bit better about the initial investigation.

Overall, I believe that law enforcement didn't intentionally give him special treatment. But the fact that he was an officer led them to handle this case less aggressively. Owensby's and Dixon's comments and defenses certainly don't help police relations in this city, and it has NOT been a good summer for IMPD as far as community relations go.

And anyone can see this coming from a mile away: The families of the injured and dead are going to sue. I hope the city is putting away money right now, because not only will a long, drawn out legal battle be a drain on city resources, but it'll further tarnish our city's image.

The low price of bail also concerns me. Wasn't the mother who's neglect led to her child's death set at $200,000 bail?

UPDATE II: I heard an interview of a DUI lawyer this afternoon on WIBC. He said that, as far as the media reports go, there are two possibilities of how someone can have 0.19 BAC and not be noticeably drunk. He said that if someone drinks alcohol the night before and sleeps, their body will still register a BAC the next day for some time.

The other possibility is that, at some point after the accident, the officer left the scene, got wasted, and went to the hospital where he got his blood drawn.

Either situation seems very unusual and, until the investigation and trial reveals more information, seems to raise more questions than answers.


  1. Bisard was not on an emergency run, and he had no right to speed so excessively, and drive so recklessly. If he was not drunk, he sure drove like one. My heart is with his victims and family, and support their plans for a rally outside the City-County Building.

  2. Marycatherine, there is a commenter on the Star's site called supportoffamily that is promoting a rally on the circle. Have you heard something otherwise?


Please see the Indy Student Blog Policies page for the full policy on blog comments. Verification of comments by typing in a random word is required to prevent spam. Due to recent blog inactivity, comments are now pre-screened to prevent spam advertisement.