FORT WAYNE, Ind. – A northeastern Indiana jury has found a suspended Indianapolis police officer in a fatal crash involving his patrol car guilty on all counts.
David Bisard's squad car plowed into three motorcyclists at a stoplight on Aug. 6, 2010, at the intersection of 56th Street and Brendon Way in Indianapolis. One man died and two other people were injured.
The question was: Did Marion County prosecutors prove to an Allen Superior Court jury he was drunk and reckless when he did so?
The jury said yes:
- Count 1 – Operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content higher than 0.15 percent, a B felony;
- Count 2 – Driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death, a C felony;
- Count 3 – Reckless homicide, a C felony;
- Count 4 – DWI causing serious injury, a D felony;
- Count 5 – Operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent causing injury, a D felony;
- Count 6 – DWI causing serious injury, a D felony;
- Count 7 – Operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent, a D felony;
- Count 8 – Criminal recklessness, a D felony;
- Count 9 – Criminal recklessness, a D felony.
Bisard's trial, which attracted heavy publicity in the state's capital, was moved from Marion County to Allen County to better the chances of assembling an unbiased jury. Television and newspaper crews from Indianapolis have been a constant presence, as have been their cameras and trucks.
Lawyers have fought to omit evidence and include evidence; motions for nearly every detail had been filed.
Last month, Indianapolis police were found to be sending summaries of witness testimony to the department's top brass, one of whom was a witness in the proceedings. That violated the court's separation of witnesses, but Judge John F. Surbeck ultimately ruled the emails did not reveal anything that could cause problems.
Even Monday – when the jury was only scheduled to hear closing arguments – court officials could not avoid a major hiccup. One juror did research on blood draws – a pivotal topic concerning the trial –sometime before the weekend. He did this despite three weeks of warnings from Surbeck that jurors not were not to do any independent research involving the case.
The juror admitted to talking about what he found with fellow jurors. Surbeck admonished the juror before dismissing him Monday morning. The other jurors had to be questioned individually to ensure they were not affected by the information the juror found online.
In closing arguments, Marion County prosecutors painted a gruesome picture of the scene they say Bisard caused. He was driving as fast as 76 mph with lights and sirens going on a non-emergency run, accelerating on 56th Street as he approached Brendon Way.
Bisard's squad car plowed into three motorcyclists stopped at a red light, sending one of them, Eric Wells, flying through the air.
"They were doing everything right," deputy prosecutor Mark Hollingsworth said of the motorcyclists. "They did what they were supposed to do, which was stay put."
Hollingsworth described how one witness could only hear the roar of Bisard's engine before it rammed into the group. He described how the entire scene smelled overwhelmingly of antifreeze as it leaked from Bisard's squad car, and how the officer walked out of the car and wandered around the carnage with his arms folded.
"That defendant and solely that defendant caused that collision," Hollingsworth told jurors. "The photos don't do justice to what the scene was like."
A blood draw taken from Bisard, hours after the crash, showed his blood-alcohol content at 0.19 percent – twice the legal limit. His defense team zeroed in on how this blood draw was conducted, trying to plant in the jurors' minds that there were many opportunities for it to be tainted.
The defense attorneys pointed to multiple witnesses at the scene – many in law enforcement – who said Bisard showed no signs of intoxication