Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Attorney For Bisard Victims Wrongly Accused Bisard Of Purchasing Alcohol At CVS

Shortly after the fatal DUI crash involving IMPD K-9 Officer David Bisard, an attorney whose law firm represents one of the victims in a potential lawsuit against the City and Bisard, Gerald Griffin, wrongly accused Bisard of purchasing alcohol at a CVS store prior to the accident. Griffin, an attorney with Wilson Kehoe & Winningham claimed he observed Bisard purchase vodka at a CVS store within 48 hours before the crash. The internal report released today by IMPD totally dispels Griffin's account. The report reads, in part:

On August 20, 2010, the prosecutor’s office received a letter from Mr. Bruce Kehoe, of the law firm, Wilson, Kehoe and Winningham, who represents one of the victim’s (Kurt Weekly). Mr. Kehoe stated he had a witness (Gerald Griffin) who observed Officer Bisard purchasing alcohol from a northeast side CVS drugstore, within 48 hours before the crash. Local media stations also reported a possible witness to officer Bisard purchasing alcohol at a CVS. Within a couple of days of the media coverage, a cashier from the CVS store at E.71st St. and Binford Blvd., Jane Meadows stated she was the clerk that sold the alcohol to Officer Bisard.

Gerald Griffin was interviewed by Detectives Burkhardt and Lehn. Mr. Griffin is an attorney and physician, and also an associate in the firm Wilson, Kehoe and Winningham. Mr. Griffin said he observed Officer Bisard purchase the alcohol at the CVS sometime between 14:30-15:00 hours on August 5, 2010. Mr. Griffin said he was in line behind the officer (Bisard), who purchased a large bottle of vodka. A check of Officer Bisard’s work activity on August 5, 2010, shows he assisted on a run at 13:50 hours at 3328 E. Michigan Street. Bisard immediately cleared that run for another at 14:08 hours at 428 W. 46th St., on a burglary. The burglary run resulted in a dog bite by Officer Bisard’s K9 partner and Bisard remained on scene on W. 46th until marking in service at 1453 hrs. Officer Bisard marked off duty at 1837 hrs on August 5, 2010. (CAD History)

CVS surveillance tapes were reviewed by Detectives Burkhardt and Lehn for the date of August 5, 2010, the alleged date of the alcohol purchase, and Officer Bisard was not seen in the store (nor were there any other uniformed IMPD officers seen purchasing alcohol). Ms Meadows’ register transactions were also reviewed by Detectives Burkhardt and Lehn and confirm that Ms. Meadows made only one alcohol sale on her shift at 00:24 hours on August 6, 2010. The sale made was Hennessey cognac, a brown colored alcohol. Video shows Ms. Meadows selling the alcohol to two black males.
It's hard to imagine how any witness could make such a faulty allegation against a suspect, but it proves the old adage of criminal defense attorneys that eyewitness accounts of alleged crimes are often unreliable and faulty.

There were a few pieces of evidence that seemed to play a role in this dreadful accident. The first is the discovery that Bisard's brakes had been serviced in the IMPD garage just hours before the accident because they were observed by a mechanic to be badly worn. The front brake pads were replaced during the routine service of Bisard's police cruiser. Approximately two hours of time between Bisard leaving the garage and the time he was summoned to assist with a non-emergency cannot be explained because Bisard refused to cooperate and answer questions during the investigation, which should be pointed out occurred after he learned that he was placed in criminal jeopardy and had the constitutional right to remain silent. Bisard as has been previously reported was traveling at a very high rate of speed (70 mph) with his siren blaring and his lights flashing. The radio communications immediately after the collision indicate Bisard very clearly communicated what had happened and summoned emergency medical attention. He knew how many victims there were and had the presence of mind to give instructions on closing down traffic in the area. It appears Officer Bisard may have been distracted by e-mail communications he was sending and receiving with another police officer at the time of the collision. Damaging to Bisard as that may be, it is even more damaging because the communications were non-work related according to the report.

Two of the officers who responded to the accident scene, Sgt. Doug Heustis and Officer Jason Cottey, were among those on the scene. Heustis is an IMPD-certified crash investigator and Cottey is a certified Fatal Accident Team (FAT) and Fatal Alcohol Crash Team (FACT) member. Another officer on the scene described a scene of Bisard trying to comfort one of the victims but was visibly panicked. The officer had Bisard to sit down in his patrol car. None of the dozens of witnesses who were present at the accident scene, including police officers and medics, observed anything out of the ordinary with Bisard that would have led them to conclude he was impaired by alcohol or any drugs. The most damning piece of evidence was the failure of the police investigation to secure the personal items in Bisard's patrol car as would typically occur when anyone is involved in a fatal accident and the automobile is taken into police custody. Ultimately, the blame for that failure got laid at the doorsteps of Asst. Chief Darryl Pierce, Deputy Chief Ron Hicks, and Commander John Conley, who were all demoted to the rank of lieutenant. They were determined not to have taken charge of the accident scene and making sure all evidence was properly secured and gathered. Lt. George Crooks, head of the FACT team was demoted early on in the investigation, but IMPD now admits that demotion was made in error and he has been restored to his former duties.

A sore spot to those demoted officers in the report was its failure to recognize the shortcomings of IMPD Chief Paul Ciesielski and Public Safety Director Frank Straub in handling the investigation. Although the report admits the two were consumed with Straub's public image problem and the recent defeat of a new police contract by members of the FOP, and acknowledged they had summoned Hicks and Pierce to return to IMPD headquarters for a meeting and to later attend a press conference to dispel rumors circulating that there was dissension in the leadership ranks of IMPD towards the leadership of Straub and Ciesielski, it finds no fault in their actions or inactions. Straub became very defensive during today's press conference when questioned about his role, insisting he had no responsibility to tend to the matter. He also said neither Pierce nor Hicks had requested the two come to the accident scene. He continued his war of words against the FOP, who he has accused of spreading baseless rumors about him.

What is clear from the investigation is that it was otherwise followed in accordance with IMPD procedures on the books at that time with respect to the manner in which the blood sample was drawn from Officer Bisard for testing. The problem was the recently-enacted law that limited who could draw blood samples for testing in such cases and the failure to update procedures to ensure compliance with that new law. The report confirmed procedures were followed for responding to fatal accidents. It confirmed the validity of the blood alcohol tests showing Bisard tested .19, more than double the legal limit. Interestingly, there was no requirement that Officer Bisard be tested with a portable breathalyzer at the accident. A number of changes are recommended to avoid a repeat of the mistakes made in this investigation, but the report makes clear there was no conspiracy to cover up Bisard's state of intoxication that nobody, police or civilian, observed at the accident scene, including the medics who treated him. Straub denied today he had delayed release of the report to remove any unfavorable findings in it. What was learned is that the report released today is a compilation of three separate reports, including the FBI's, although Straub says the FBI report isn't actually a report. Some are urging a release of all of the reports that went into the making of today's report to confirm relevant information was not redacted from the final report to favor any of those involved in the investigation.


TwoDomeTown said...

AI, I believe that evidence will evetually come to light that Bisard wasn't intoxicated at all. This whole episode has never made sense and a cover up on this scale is not feasible or even warranted.

I think perhaps the sample was subjected to a substitution or transposition error. The facility that handled the test certainly seemed to be incompetent at every step. Sadly, I don't think the city knows, or has considered the possibility that the sample is in error. In regular DUI cases techs draw two vacutainers of blood. I wonder if that was done in this case and if that evidence was preserved. We won't likely know until the evidentiary stage of a criminal proceeding.

Advance Indiana said...

The report suggested the only potential mistake made during the blood testing was the use of an alcohol swab, which the police officer quickly pointed out to the person who made the blood draw, and the error was avoided. The report indicates the person who tested the blood was very experienced. Not sure how she could have made that big of a mistake. She seemed emphatic that she followed proper procedures and reconfirmed her test results.

TwoDomeTown said...

AI - I've read the entire report now and am satisfied that the tests were performed appropriately. I wasn't sure if the test was actually conducted at a lab other than a forensic crime lab where validated procedures are used.

After reading the entire report, I have to tell you that I don't think the guy was drunk. It is impossible to mask the effects of alcohol, especially at a level of .19%BAC, on a horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This test was clearly described in the report as being conducted by a physician prior to the draw.

A couple of things in the report stick out to me: the constant, and constistent statements of witnesses who had close contact with Bisard and were absolutely shocked to learn that he was intoxicated at a .19%BAC; the clear statement from the reconstructionist that the ABS system failed immediately after the brakes had been serviced just two hours before; and the evidence that Bisard was emailing on his MDT immediately prior to the crash while driving 73mph; and the fact that the blood evidence was not processed for quite some time (Aug 6 - Aug 9 it sat in the property room).

I also don't think this report was edited to make the city or Dr. Straub look more favorable. If anything, it will cause them more problems and raise more questions.

At this point, I am most concerned about the chain of custody and the possibility that the samples were tainted. No statements were included from Stephens and Walton that any markings or seals he placed on the evidence were intact and did not appear to be tampered with. They include a picture of the vacutainer, why not these statements? They will certainly arise in a criminal proceeding.

Marco said...

The WOS is that the FBI account was extremely damning of both Straub and Ciesielski.

Notice the change in tenor from open transparency where everybody can see everything, to a redacted version that evidently took the better part of a month to sift through, proofread, and edit.

I'm not seeing any surprises in this report. If anybody expected the internal investigation, considering who had final say-so, to show anything less than conclusive support for Straub and Ciesielski's decisions that day, well....

Unigov said...

This thing stinks to high heaven.

There is a string of coincidences and omissions in this chain of events that defies belief. Bisard refuses to cooperate. IMPD just HAPPENS to send one of their own to a unqualified blood draw, SIX months after the law was changed. This report just HAPPENS to come out a week after the election. Bisard, thru the suppresion of the alcohol test and the strange failure of his breaks, will just HAPPEN to get off scott-free. EVERYbody's brakes always fail right after their car is serviced.


And not that Bisard is one, but anybody who has been around alcoholics KNOWS that an alky with a .19 can look completely unimpaired because they are so used to being drunk.

Anonymous said...

The problem here is the rumors you read about on various internet forums/blogs. There is one saying that Bisard did have alcohol in his system, but the result should have been .019, not .19. This would be shocking, because if true, that means someone in the crime lab, whom I believe did the blood testing (not the draw), made a mistake. Such a mistake could cause big problems for all pending DUI cases where blood was drawn and then tested at the same lab.

So either Bisard is a functional alcoholic, or he had some drinks the day before and was still at a .019 when he was working. Either way, Bisard still had a duty to drive safely. While there are rumors of a constant brake issue with his vehicle, eventually, as an officer, you have to forgo your take home, personal office for a shared one (pool car). My guess is that his defense team will use the brake issue to try to get him off on the criminal charges. However, the merit board members may question him as to why he constantly drove a car that had constant brake problems, if that is the case.

It is going to be interesting on how this unfolds. Hopefully the truth will come out, and that second vile of blood will be tested by an independent laboratory sometime in the future. To me, the testing of that second vile will show Bisard's true guilt or innocence when it comes to driving drunk.

jon porter said...

Full text of the report here:

Concerned Taxpayer said...

So, Herr DOC-TOR Straub still managed to hide his arrogance, conceit, and disdain for ordinary people by taking three reports and "consolidating" them into the ONE report that the public gets the privilege of seeing.
That way, people will still not know that he called the three staff members away from the accident scene in order for them to "stand behind him" at a news conference.
Yep. That is transparency, all right!

Indy4U2C said...

I wish the Supreme Court would initiate an ethics investigation into this ambulance chaser. I believe he brought the bar into disrepute.

Anonymous said...

The third message from heaven...
If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

varangianguard said...

If I were a body language expert, I would have said that Deputy Chief Cunningham was reading a report containing parts she didn't agree with or even want to read aloud. Certain parts she stumbled over as if she either didn't write them, or didn't believe them. But, that's just me the amateur speaking.

Also, I noticed that Director Straub, Ph.D. was staring at the Deputy Chief for some reason during her entire recitation. I would have assumed that the Mayor and Director Straub, Ph.D. would have been watching the audience, trying to guage their reactions (if any), rather than watching the speaker. Silly me.