Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mishandling Of Officers' DUI Resulting In Death Further Splits IMPD And Straub

The tensions between IMPD and Public Safety Director Frank Straub creeped up a notch today after Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi announced he is dropping all alcohol-related charges against Officer David Bisard, whose police cruiser crashed into two motorcyclists, killing one person and leaving two others seriously injured. Brizzi says the blood draw taken from Bisard as evidence more than two hours after the accident was inadmissible because it was drawn by a lab technician who is not certified under Indiana law to do such work for criminal cases. Further complicating the case was the lack of probable cause for testing Bisard because police said they detected no signs of him being intoxicated when they arrived at the accident scene and began investigating the accident. Both failures led Straub to remove an officer in charge of fatal accidents involving alcohol from his position, and to ask the FBI to investigate IMPD's handling of the case.

Brizzi's decision to drop the alcohol-related charges against Bisard came after prosecutor's lost a defense motion before Judge Grant Hawkins to take away Bisard's license to drive because of the lack of a probable cause showing for suspending his license, which is determined under a statute different than the statute for determining probable cause of intoxication. Because there was no probable cause shown for administering a blood alcohol test and Bisard had not refused the testing, he was not subject to automatic revocation of his driver's license. An appellate court decision interpreting the statute in question supported Hawkins' ruling today. Bisard still faces felony reckless homicide and criminal recklessness charges. Brizzi, who has been under pressure to resign for a variety of recent transgressions and his ties to alleged Ponzi scheme operator Tim Durham, says his office did not learn of the defect in the drawing of Bisard's blood sample until this week.

Straub suggested to reporters today Bisard could face additional federal charges as a result of an FBI investigation, although it is not clear what federal laws he violated. It may just be more hyperbole on Straub's part, who seems to enjoy all of the media attention and the opportunity to exert more control over the police department. I understand people's frustration that police failed to detect any signs of Bisard being intoxicated but perhaps there is another explanation. He wasn't drunk. We now know the person who drew his blood for testing was not even qualified to be doing this type of work. Who knows at this point if we won't learn of other mistakes that produced an inaccurate blood alcohol test. Everyone at IMPD thought Bisard was one of their best officers until all this incident. Now everyone seems to be presuming his guilt before he's given a chance to prove his innocence. Let's just step back and give the guy the benefit of the doubt until all of the facts are gathered.

While our prosecutor was grand-standing in front of the cameras today about the police handling of this alleged DUI case, he should explain to the public why he has chosen to enter into a plea agreement with another accused drunk driver, Curt Carlson, who drove drunk and killed the driver of another car. Brizzi's office is reportedly offering a plea deal to let Carlson off on misdemeanor charges. Brizzi's office claims it lacks the evidence to prove he was driving while intoxicated when he struck a 30-year-old mother, Eboni Dodson.

13 comments:

Indy4U2C said...

Brizzi simply failed to do his homework and prepare for a brief when he had a well-prepared defense attorney presenting the defense side.

Just what certification does a person need to draw blood? I'll tell you. Indiana law 9-30-6-6 (g) only requires the person to be "trained in obtaining bodily substance samples and acting under direction of or under protocol prepared by a physician".

Now, if a person is employed as a lab tech does not meet that standard, then how do they retain their position?

Further, Carl failed to argue that Garrity does not apply here. IC 9-30-7-3 requires all operators involved in a fatality to provide a chemical test for intoxication.

This is a blunder on Brizzi's part.

Straub is a joke. The feds do not prosecute drunk drivers. Straub also has no legal command authority over the police or fire department and someone needs to put him in his place!!! The city-council codified that fact.

Straub is nothing but a media whore, who likes to see himself on TV. The public usually prefer a police officer or fireman speak on the topic du jour.

Indy Student said...

I don't find much comfort if Bisard wasn't drunk. One man is dead, one is in a coma, and a woman is going to need several surgeries to recover. No matter what happens, it's still a complete tragedy.

That said, I'm supportive of Bisard keeping his license, though maybe not necessarily for the same reason you are, Gary. I'm not a big fan of "pre-emptive" punishment in any case because then it makes the accused seem to be guilty of something even before a trial is held.

Advance Indiana said...

I'm reposting Brizzonator's comment, which I inadvertently deleted instead of publishing:

So out of the 175 attorneys on staff @ MCPO were they all out to lunch at 11 am on that Friday and were not able to roll onto the scene where in an Officer likely committed some type of manslaughter?...Even if Bisard did not show signs of intoxication... All the top Brass were fully aware of the unnecessary speed causing the death of a cyclist when he says he was rolling onto a warrant being served...

MCPO should have been on scene controlling/assisting in Probable Cause and controlling the Chain of evidence gathering since afterall the reasonable person standard would clearly know that IMPD had a conflict of interest... MCPO is partly to blame for this mess.... For the BRIZ to point the finger with a buger on it is disgusting... Afterall, auto accidents involving a city officers and civilians resulting in a civilian fatality ABSOLUTELY WARRANT MORE VIGILENCE AND DILGENCE ON THE PART OF MCPO.

PUKE IN PUKE OUT...

Roberta X said...

Y'know, slightly more diligent police work would have made this muddle less of a mess. Plenty of "face time" for Mssrs. Brizzi, Straub and Ciesielski on the local media from it, though; and they say it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good....

This wind's not only ill, it's starting to smell fishy.

Downtown Indy said...

I've been trying to come up with an explanation for NO ONE suspecting him of being drunk at the time.

I am particularly flabbergasted that even the medical folks at the Occ Health center seem to have missed it. Surely with even a cursory medical exam the signs would have to have been clear - heart rate, pupillary responses, any number things that would be checked following a crash to ascertain whether the patient had any head injuries.

But nothing.

This is one very bizarre case.

AvA Indiana said...

I for one leave to the courts to do as they will. in my court I have other question isn't it common practice In Indiana to drug test anyone involved in a workman comp case? and wouldn't this be considered a work related Injury? isn't it also common practice to drug test after a fatal accident? Meaning you or I would face these actions. So I ask why wasn't the same done to this Police officer? If a law is good for the common man shouldn't the same law go for the ones enforcing it?

Bob said...

Gary,

Brizzi/Wyser's office had to have known the procedures for handling blood evidence in this kind of case. Even a relatively new deputy prosecutor who handles misdemeanor drunk driving cases would make it a point to know the "how's" and "why's" of deciding when and who can draw blood.

If they could not see this one coming, BOTH should resign. This is just another example of the utter incompetence and mismanagment of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.

Downtown Indy said...

Sadly, I think because the victim lived for a while, dying at the hospital later, the timing put a twist in the process. Then IMPD had to scramble after the accident became a 'fatal' and try to handle it as such.

Not that I mean to make an excuse - the police made several blunders. The investigation still needs to sort out whether they were intentional or not.

Jon said...

I noticed an interesting question on another site today, was there a video tape in Bisard's car of the accident? Or do the current police cars have an accident recorder as the new Corvettes?

Downtown Indy said...

I do not think the IMPD cars have cameras. I heard that question come up before and the answer was 'no.'

spooknp said...

It is possible that Bisard didn't have any alcohol in his system and wasn't intoxicated.

9-30-6-6(g) makes it sound like anyone can draw blood. However, the ruling in Brown also pointed out 9-30-6-6(j). That law says the person drawing the blood must fit at least one of seven categories. The court ruled "Brown contends that Zook, as a certified lab technician, is not a person who is “trained in obtaining bodily substance samples” for purposes of this statute.2 We agree."

Downtown Indy said...

It's the law but still preposterous that this blood draw was someone tainted by the technician. The Probable Cause Affidavit states that a betadine solution was used and not an alcohol swab. That eliminates one major possibility of contamination. It also suggests the blood draw was done competently and not in ignorance of the contamination issues with using alcohol.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Yes, skunks rule Indianapolis.