A state prison official admitted Monday that the suspect in the shooting of an Indianapolis police officer might never have been on the streets if either of two crucial steps had been taken after a previous arrest.While the immediate focus is on the Department of Correction's mistakes that allowed the release of Hardy, you can't help but wonder why nobody at the county jail or the prosecutor's office had become familiar enough with Hardy because of his numerous prior arrests and time spent in the county jail awaiting sentencing for multiple prior convictions, many of which took place soon after he was released from prison.
Mistake one: Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison said the department failed to enter the parole status of Thomas X. Hardy, 60, into a law enforcement database.
If it had, Garrison said, Marion County Jail officials would have known Hardy was on parole when he was arrested Nov. 19 on felony theft charges. Garrison said the jailers might have contacted the DOC in such a circumstance.
Mistake two: Parole officers are supposed to perform regular checks of the database to determine whether parolees have been arrested. Marion County Jail officials had entered the November arrest, but his parole officer hadn't checked the database.
Garrison said that if DOC officials had known that Hardy was being held in Marion County Jail last month -- either by being contacted by the jail or noticing the arrest in the database -- officials likely would have asked the jail to keep him in custody until a parole board could review his case.
Instead, he was freed after posting $15,000 bail on Dec. 21.
"We regret that any failure of the DOC to properly follow its internal processes resulted in the premature release of Hardy," Garrison said, "and like all citizens of Indiana, our sympathies and prayers are with the officer and his family."
Garrison said officials are trying to determine why Hardy's case slipped through the cracks, but he said the DOC would use the situation as an opportunity to "tighten (our) procedures."
"There certainly has to be a re-emphasis of oversight," Garrison said.
Ritchie provides more details on the circumstances that resulted in his November arrest. It turns out he was suspected of stealing TVs from a Target store at Glendale over a several day period:
Hardy was arrested in November after security officers at the Glendale Target on North Keystone Avenue caught him trying to shoplift two televisions. They eventually linked him to similar thefts that occurred on Nov. 14, 17 and 18 at the same store, according to police records and court affidavits.Family and corrections officials naturally insist there were no signs the 60-year-old Hardy was capable of committing violent offenses, even if he was a serial thief.
He told officers then that he planned to sell the TVs to make money because the economy was bad.
He was released from the Marion County Jail on Dec. 21 after posting bond.
Hardy had been on parole since being released from prison in October 2009. He was considered to be a low-risk parolee for several reasons, including the fact that he was considered nonviolent. Though he had been arrested for parole violations in the past, he had been seeing his parole officer regularly, Garrison said. He could have been off parole in March if he had avoided arrest . . .So you can see where this argument is headed. It's society's fault and, in particular, employers who didn't want to give Hardy a job because of his past criminal record. Yeah, corrections officials screwed up, but if only someone would have offered him a job, he wouldn't have stolen a car, shot a cop and held up a store at gunpoint after he was mistakenly released.
Though Hardy spent about 19 of the last 27 years in prison for committing an assortment of crimes, his family doesn't think he would be capable of shooting a police officer.
He didn't make it past the 10th grade at Crispus Attucks High School and, during various interviews with police, he reported himself as unemployed except for stints in maintenance in 2006 and construction in 1998. He had no spouse and said his parents were deceased.
Hardy never exhibited any violent tendencies or carried a gun and never showed any animosity toward police, said his niece, Cynthia Cody, 51, Indianapolis.
"I'm just sick about everything," Cody said. "I am sick for my family, and I am sick for the officers' family. This is not in my uncle's character."