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.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.
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.
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.