What the MSM is not telling you about the Bisard case

Dateline: Thu 19 Apr 2012

Here is what many in the city's public safety community believe about the drunk-driving allegations against Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer David Bisard, involved in a fatal and far-reaching car crash in August 2010:

Bisard was not intoxicated. The blood sample that was drawn two hours after the accident, which killed one motorcyclist and injured two others, was improperly drawn and was tainted.

True, the initial reading of the test showed Bisard with a blood alcohol level of .19. But that was a false reading, because, as has been explained to me, Bisard's arm was swabbed with alcohol before blood was drawn.  That is correct procedure for other kinds of blood draws -- for blood panels, or whatever -- but not for testing for a DUI.

Furthermore, 67 people interviewed from the scene of the fatal crash said Bisard showed no signs of intoxication whatsoever.

If he had a blood alcohol level of .19 after the test, here are some behaviors he would have exhibited: slurred speech, staggering, loss of gross motor control, boisterousness, exaggerated emotions, poor reaction time. A reading of .19 is more than twice the legal limit in Indiana; Bisard, who presumably two hours earlier would have been even more ieibrieated, would have been one step from unconsciousness or falling-down drunk.

He wasn't. Not according to eye-witness interviews.

So the first test was botched, and botched badly, by the use of alcohol to paint Bisard's arm where blood was drawn.

Go online and you can find all sorts of information from states about how a DUI blood test differs from a standard blood draw; the protocols for California, Michigan and Arizona, for instance, are easy to find  -- and they are complicated procedures both in terms of drawing and storage (which was also botched). Yes, the blood has to be drawn from a qualified technician, which it was not in Bisard's case. Of course, there's nothing online (at least in a first Google search) about Indiana's requirements. It's sort of like the Indiana State Fair tragedy all over again -- we lack standards, or at least, easily discernible ones.

None of this is written to dismiss the seriousness of Bisard's actions that day. Nor is it an attempt to justify how the police on the scene behaved -- except to suggest that, perhaps, what they saw was the aftermath of a terrible accident involving one of their guys. Bisard may be a super-tough cop, but he's not able to pull off acting sober two hours before pulling a .19 blood alcohol draw. Nobody could do that.

The flak over Frank Straub may or may not be a side issue.  Understandably, cops are angry at the public safety director because he's made the worst assumptions about the force, and made them in public venues. He's an ass, but he's Mayor Greg Ballard's ass, so we may have to live with him.

I don't know why the Indianapolis Star or TV have not looked more closely at this issue -- obviously, Bisard's attorney gets it. So do the city's police and firefighters. That's why there is so much rancor over how the Bisard case has been handled.

You won't read this in the paper.  In fact, the Star went so far today as to quote Wilson Allen expressing his disgust for how the city and IMPD is being run. Here's the money quote:

"'This is just over-the-top disgusting,' said Indianapois resident Wilson Allen, 70, who has lived Downtown for 40 years."

Give me an f-ing break. I love Wilson, he's a character, but he is as partisan as a state convention of moonstruck Dems under the sway of Evan Bayh, in the olden days; he formerly worked for the late Rep. Julia Carson and today he carries the water for her heir Rep. Andre Carson. Well and good for Wilson, but for the Star to portray him as some objective observer is ludicrous. He would like nothing more than to topple the administration of Republican Mayor Ballard.

That was bad reporting and worse editing. But the lack of explanation in our local media for the story behind the blood draw and police discontent is worse: it's almost malicious neglect of the truth. Or laziness. Or fear?

Draw your own conclusions about Bisard's actions that day. But at least make your decisions with some pertinent facts in mind.

This is written with complete sympathy for the family of Eric Wells, killed in the crash, RIP, and for his friends who were critically injured: Mary Mills and Kurt Weekly.  This is not an apology for Bisard. Just an attempt to get at information that has not been reported or explained, but is certainly talked about in some circles.




Wilson46201 [unverified] said:

I thank you for your kind words but my gut-level reaction to the news about the destruction of key evidence in a major police-corruption trial is one that is shared widely by most citizens in Indianapolis. That quote from me was simply a representative of what most reporters had been hearing out on the streets...

2012-04-19 09:28:42

John M [unverified] said:

Speaking of pertinent facts, is there a shred of scientific evidence anywhere that would suggest that swabbing a person's arm with alcohol would cause a false reading? My brief Google research suggests that the limited scientific testing that has been done on this question says "no." I'm not a scientist, but here's what strikes me as odd about the swab theory. The legal limit for intoxication, .08 percent, is 8 parts per 10 thousand. Bisard's reading was 19 parts per 10,000. A reading of 40 parts ten thousand would obviously be passed out drunk, if not dead. But all of those figures are within a very small range. My point, perhaps not clearly made, is that it would be quite a coincidence for contamination from an outside source to so neatly hit the very small target of the range of human intoxication. In addition, my understanding, again based on pretty quick internet poking around, is that these swabs typically are isopropyl alcohol, not ethyl alcohol, as is found in alcoholic drinks.

That's not to say that the procedure wasn't followed, but the mere existence of a procedure does not establish that a failure to follow it would actually cause any problems.

I have followed the story only in the media, but I would make a couple of points as to his behavior. If Bisard was in fact drunk on the job, then that suggests that he is a big-time alcoholic. I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that someone who is in the habit of hiding intoxication would become pretty good at it. Second, I haven't read the 67 statements, but I do know that there were some media reports of the officer being very emotional at the scene. That could, although by no means is certain to have been, a consequence of intoxication.

It's a strange case, no doubt. But I don't think those who believe Bisard wasn't intoxicated have provided anything approaching a good explanation for his test results.

2012-04-19 09:56:31

hendy [Member] said:

It doesn't take much to cause impairment. At high speed, large vehicles are pretty unforgiving masses of metal looking for a deadly spot marked X.

If you disassemble the "67" witnesses, several things immediately come to mind. These people arrived in waves. Many of these people didn't interview Bisard. They were on the periphery, watching the EMTs, the forensics people, and the officers on scene. These are statements, but not sworn affidavits? There's a huge difference in penalty between making a false statement to a police officer and perjury.

If Bisard had moderate impairment, not the falling-down-drunk type, he would have appeared "normal" to people who, ranging from those that got a few seconds peak to others just on the scene, as being emotional, and probably full of adrenaline. Adrenaline can sober you up quickly. You "burn off" alcohol quickly when in that adrenaline rush. I don't think Bisard is vindicated. His attorneys may be saving his ass by using the methodology employed.

The facts are: Bisard is probably guilty of at least manslaughter. The IPD/Metros criminally mismanaged evidence. The chief has fallen on his sword. Citing Wilson was cheap. Justice is unlikely to prevail, IMHO. For those that defend Ballard, there's one more chink in your armor-- there was no leadership at the top. Reminds me of Romney-endorsing Daniels. Maybe he can find another half billion that we can fix things with.

2012-04-19 10:15:48

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

You may be right, Ruthie dear, but here's a factoid for consideration:

Why was there ANY alcohol in his system? He'd been on duty for several hours.

I've known Chief Paul C. for years, and there isn't a finer man anywhere. He got caught up in this.

Here's the rub: if the blood vial's tainting was an accident, it's incompetent beyond belief. IF it was done purposely, it's corruption at some level. Felonies were committed. I hope to God it's just stupidity, because the alternative scares the hell out of me.

I feel for the overwhelming majority of LEOs whose reputations are being dragged through the mud. It's unfair. But the IMPD is staffed with too many ne'er-do-wells. I don't think anyone disputes that.

Too many of our LEOs are walking lawsuits. That's the fault of lax superiors who didn't want to take the time to properly discipline those officers years ago--and the bad behavior, not reigned-in, multiplied.

As for Straub: he's an arrogant asshat. Bt this Mayor campaigned in 2007 on an agenda of taking over the IMPD. Remember at the time, the Sheriff was in charge of the newly-merged derpartment. And we had to listen to endless whining from the brown shirts ad the blue shirts about who got screwed.

We need one junified police force. UniGov has grown up, and (s)he's become a dysfunctional adult in the pubic-safety sense. That level of dysfunction costs more money than necessary, and we've been tinkinering around the edges of IMPD morale, staffing and training for several years.

I got a tail-light ticket from an IMPD officer about 15 months ago. He apologized, and told me he had a quota to hit before the end of the month, or his roll-call captain would have his ass. He was probably 50, at least 50 lbs. overweight, huffing and puffing, and his explanation about quotas was completely unprofessional. It's like the checkout ladies at Big Lots whining about not getting enough coffee breaks. I just don't care.

They're so much like IPS is sickens me. Let's not forget that somehow the law enforcement budget was short millions of dollars--**surprise!**--which was discovered conveniently after the election.

I have no--ZIPPO--confidence in the department any more.

That's a currency you cannot measure without crying a little.

2012-04-19 13:03:13

michaelk [Member] said:

"If he had a blood alcohol level of .19 after the test, here are some behaviors he would have exhibited: ..."

Presuming, of course, that he's not a long-term heavy drinker or even alcoholic.

It's absolutely infuriating that officers involved in crashes aren't automatically given mandatory breathalyzers on-site just as any regular citizen would have to have.

But then, one set of rights for police, another for citizens.

2012-04-19 23:37:23

Are you sure? [unverified] said:

According to the internal review, what is being claimed about the use of the alcohol swab isn't correct. The report says this error was noted, and the tech used the other arm and a Betadine swab on that arm. It was then the two vials of blood were obtained.


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2012-04-20 04:15:16

Jason [unverified] said:

The error regarding the iodine prep used was caught before the draw was done.

None of the coverage suggests even a remote familiarity with policies and procedures that were in place at the time of the incident, hence all the conspiracy theories.

Neither "Breathalyzers" nor portable tests are given, offered, suggested, or forced after all accidents. In fatality accidents they are. This is a procedural issue under state law, NOT a matter where criminal behavior has been suspected. There is a HUGE difference between the two. This is the only case I know of where the PROCEDURAL blood draw is done, absent ANY evidence of impairment, and we find out the later there is a high BAC reading. This includes a trauma doctor that did an extensive physical examination immediately following the accident. All those people who think the car should have been treated like a crime scene immediately have no familiarity with how these issues are resolved.

It becomes an unstoppable force versus an immovable object. I'm inclined to believe the blood draw was bad, in light of the numerous eyewitness statements compared to the documented and undocumented problems at crime labs all over the state. I'm surprised nobody has called into question the integrity of the crime lab itself considering they work part and parcel with the property room.

Speaking of which, it's very common for evidence to shipped off to the property room annex, even in major felony crimes. My guess is it's an honest mistake, because they happen regularly.

It's impossible at best to blame the Chief for what happened, but Paul Ciesielski has been plagued with integrity issues since the merger. From the infamous "I didn't tell him to take Glen Howard's name out of the report" peashake incident to forcing on-duty officers to provide free security at politically-affiliated churches on his district, you won't find many officers smarting over his demotion. His truly seminal moment was the Jerry Piland incident, where he showed the public he was unfamiliar with his own policies and procedures, training standards, and was unable to put forth even a remotely tangible explanation why he recommended him for termination.

2012-04-21 03:37:53

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