Monday, December 6, 2010

Fraternal Order of Police Vote to Pay Officer Bisard's Legal Fees

As has been reported in various media outlets today and yesterday, the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police will be paying Officer David Bisard's legal fees. The union president, Bill Owensby, has defended the decision, saying it was a democratic decision put up for a vote and that Bisard is in good standing with the FOP.

Bisard, months ago, was speeding with his lights and siren on to assist in serving a felony warrant for marijuana posession. At an intersection with stopped vehicles present, he swerved to avoid them but ended up hitting a group of motorcycles. One of the motorcyclists, Eric Wells, died on the scene. Two others, Mary Mills and Kurt Weekly, suffered traumatic injuries. Two hours later, Bisard was taken to a medical clinic to be treated for some injuries and his blood was drawn to be tested for intoxication, standard in any vehicular accident that involves injury or death. The blood alcohol content has been repeatedly reported to be 0.19, over twice the legal limit. The police report that was released last month stresses that dozens of law enforcement officials, medical personnel, and other people saw him during the time between the crash and the blood draw and claim he had no indication of being intoxicated. Drunk driving charges were originally filed, but later dropped, supposedly due to the technician who drew the blood wouldn't legally be able to do it in a criminal investigation.

As I reported earlier, I have a source that told me the lab somehow wrote down the wrong number, and the BAC was actually 0.019.

Since this happened, tensions have been tense between the general public and the police department. The Bisard case was only the latest in a long line of officers over the past several years that seem to be constantly in the news. Several protests concerning Bisard and the alleged beating of Brandon Johnson were held in warmer months, and Al Sharpton has made appearances in Indianapolis twice. Any political analyst would advice the rank-and-file of IMPD to stay far away from Bisard at this point.

So why would members of the police union overwhelmingly vote to pay for this guy's legal fees?

Bill Owensby, the president of the Indianapolis FOP, said during an interview with talk show host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, that Officer Bisard is entitled to due process.

I agree with that. But what he isn't entitled to is having the FOP pick up the tab. Especially since, as Abdul has pointed out, the FOP is under no obligation to do so. They have passed on representing police officers in court in recent years.

So why do they feel the need to represent Bisard?

I have no idea.

But the FOP is tying their reputation now with Bisard. And I fear that if the FOP's reputation goes in the toilet, it'll only make it harder for the rank-and-file to be trusted by the public. And if the public feels they can't be trusted, then the rank-and-file won't be able to do their job of to protect and serve.

Please see this post at Indiana Barrister to listen to the Owensby interview Shabazz conducted this morning. It runs about 12 minutes long.

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