According to the affidavit written by Capt. Chris Boomershine of IMPD's investigations division, Shabazz was a target of a criminal recklessness charge. The police probe began when the now-defunct blog IndyUndercover outed a woman who had served as a confidential informant for police trying to solve nine fires in the city from May 23 to June 17.
On June 9 IndyUndercover wrote about those arsons, naming the names of several suspects already identified by police. But the IndyUndercover blog also published the name of a confidential police informant. (!)
The information in the affidavit discussing the naming of the confidential police informant is quite troubling. According to the affidavit, IndyUndercover identified the police informant by name, who was an 8-month pregnant woman who was forced to relocate to another residence after being identified on the blog, fearing for her personal safety. Quoting from the affidavit, Holladay writes:
"Then we get another confession from REDACTED who was arrested for arson in 2004. She told detectives (arson suspect Robert) Green was also responsible for five fires and Dale Gray was responsible for two fires..."
IndyUndercover then issued this call to arms: "Someone should haul these guys into court and make them all testify against each other before someone is killed."
The affidavit continues, in Boomershine's words, "Following the leak of this information, REDACTED, who was eight months pregnant at the time and a former member of the 2-1 Fatal Gang, feared for her safety and had to relocate where she resided."
Holladay identifies police officers Brian Durham and Sherron Franklin as the investigators assigned to the case. Franklin, a frequent critic of Sheriff Frank Anderson and Mayor Bart Peterson is a Democratic City-County Councilor who lost who re-election bid this year. The IndyUndercover blog promoted her re-election. Holladay explains how the evidence led police to Shabazz as the person behind IndyUndercover. She writes:
"[Captain Chris Boomershine] was directed to investigate the possible leak of sensitive and confidential information provided by public safety personnel to the blog."
A four-month investigation followed, in which police, possibly with the aid of federal officials, began peeling back the identity of IndyUndercover through various e-mail addresses and Internet providers: Yahoo, Google, EOS and finally Bright House.
The trail ultimately led to Abdul Shabazz, according to the affidavit, which also lists Shabazz' Downtown address and phone number. Boomershine identifies Shabazz in the warrant as the IndyUndercover blog's moderator.
Judge David Altice of Marion Superior Court Criminal Division signed the search warrant. Prior to that, throughout August, Grand Jury subpoenas were issued to Google, Yahoo, etc., in the painstaking search to trace the blog back and discover who was running/writing on it.
Holladay says the affidavit described the police's interest in obtaining "any and all computer hard drives, data storage devices" etc. as well as "any indication of criminal activity." Judge Altice signed the search warrant at 2:21 p.m. on November 16. Here's what happened next according to Holladay:
By 4 p.m. or so, officers were outside Shabazz' Downtown apartment. But before they could serve the warrant, they received a phone call from someone high up in the city, and they were told to "stand down."
Shabazz himself later received a phone call from someone presumably high up in the city, warning him, "Dude, you don't know how close you came."
Based on how few people knew about this investigation, the warning call had to have come from the top, possibly in the office of Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.
By 8 p.m. or so, Shabazz wrote about nearly being served with a search warrant on his blog Indiana Barrister, where he's public about his identity. He claimed he was being investigated because he was looking into a possible child sex-abuse charge regarding a prominent local Democrat. Nothing has ever come of that.
Professor Henry Karlson of the IU School of Law--Indianapolis contends the search warrant against Shabazz is illegal under Indiana law, which protects the media from being compelled in legal proceedings to disclose their sources. Ruth Holladay wonders whether this warrant was illegal under these circumstances and asks whether the high-ranking law enforcement officer who called off the Shabazz investigation committed obstruction of justice. More importantly, she asks, "Was a confidential informant's life put in danger by a careless blog?" "That seems very possible and likely," she adds.
It doesn't look like this story is going to die anytime soon as long as Ruth Holladay is on the case.