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The family of an Indianapolis man killed by an on-duty cop, who was driving at nearly twice the posted speed limit and who tested at twice the legal blood alcohol content, is appealing to the Governor of Indiana to intervene in the matter after the county prosecutor dropped the DUI charge.
“I am pleading for your assistance to intervene in the investigation,” the victim’s widow, Luisa Montilla-Wells, said in a letter to Governor Mitch Daniels. “My family, the families of the other two victims involved in the tragedy, and the constituents of Indianapolis have lost confidence and their faith in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).”
The crash happened on August 6, 2010 near the intersection of 56th Street and Brendon Way Drive in Marion County, Indiana.
Eric Wells, 30, was stopped in traffic on a 2005 Harley-Davidson motorcycle behind another motorcyclist Kurt Weekly, 44 and passenger Mary Mills, 47, all of Indianapolis.
At approximately 11:21 a.m on that fateful Friday, IMPD officer David Bisard, 36, was traveling westbound on 56th Street with his emergency lights and siren activated. According to court records, the officer was traveling at a high rate of speed — estimated to a minimum of 65-70 MPH — in an area where the posted speed limit is 40 MPH.
“Officer Bisard struck my husband and two other motorists (Weekly and Mills) from behind with his police vehicle without attempting to make any evasive maneuver,” Wells’ widow described in her letter to the Governor. “It was soon discovered through a blood draw that Officer Bisard’s blood alcohol count was .19 while on duty, which is over twice the legal limit.”
Upon impact, Wells’ white motorcycle struck the rear of Weekly’s motorcycle and then veered to the right, according to an affidavit. It then hit the rear of a Ford Taurus and came to rest about 123 feet from the impact area. Wells was taken to Methodist Hospital but died about 40 minutes later as a result of internal and neck injuries suffered in the crash.
Weekly was pinned under his motorcycle and sustained critical head injuries. Mills suffered a fractured pelvis and other injuries, according to a police report. Both remain hospitalized in serious condition.
According to the Indianapolis Star, the K-9 officer was responding to a request for help serving a warrant.
Witnesses say immediately following the crash, Officer Bisard — who suffered minor bleeding to his elbow and lower arm — appeared less interested in assisting the victims and more interested in a black duffle bag located in his Crown Victoria patrol car.
Bisard was initially charged with seven felony counts, including causing death and injury while operating a motor vehicle while legally intoxicated. But after questions were raised about the integrity of the blood alcohol test, the county prosecutor felt it would be inadmissible when taken to court and dropped four of the charges.
In an interview with WTHR, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said the blood draw from Officer Bisard was faulty because it was not conducted at the proper location as defined by Indiana law.
“The reason was the blood draw was faulty is because it wasn’t conducted at a hospital, as it’s defined under the statute, and it wasn’t performed by someone who has the legal requirements that are necessary,” Brizzi said at a press conference.
The affidavit reveals that Officer Bisard was taken to the Methodist Occupational Health Facility, where he consented to the blood draw.
“The blood draw occurred at 1:48 p.m.,” records show. “Lt. Stephens then observed medical assistant Michelle Maga use a betadine prep to clean the inner right arm of David Bisard. (She) then drew two tubes of blood from (Bisard’s) right arm.”
The lieutenant observing the draw took possession of the tubes, labeled them, and transported them to the IMPD property room. A forensic chemist later reported that blood tests revealed an alcohol concentration equivalent to 0.19% gram of alcohol per 100 milliliters of Bisard’s blood. The legal limit in Indiana is 0.08
Bisard still faces three felony counts, including reckless homicide and criminal recklessness, but officials have asked the FBI to step in and conduct an independent investigation.
Wells’ family believes that proper investigative techniques were not followed, and collection of evidence was compromised, although the results of the blood test are not disputed by the county prosecutor.
“From the beginning, this investigation has not been handled appropriately,” Wells’ widow stated to the Governor. “The scene was not properly secured and there have been several questions that are yet to be answered.”
Public outcry over the police handling has been vocal and viral.
A public rally was held on August 20 at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. According to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis student and local blogger Matthew Stone, the rally was the second in as many weeks and turnout was strong.
“The rally (was) expected to be much larger than last week’s rally,” Stone wrote on his Indy Student website, “and this was indicated by five IMPD vehicles at the event. This is in contrast to last week’s event, where I didn’t witness a single police vehicle.”
A Facebook page has been set up for supporters — numbering almost 22,000 — to communicate and express their views on the tragedy. According to one poster, another public rally is planned for August 27.
“This support group is growing like wildfire,” stated a poster named John. “Hopefully we can make it to where it’s covered nationally.”
Big 3 News was also contacted by a number of concerned citizens.
“It is very sad to Indianapolis to see this happen,” wrote Chantel. “We want justice for the family.”
“The IMPD needs to clean up their act!” said Edward.
“We are so outraged by all the cover ups with this cop,” commented Liann. “The cops that are good don’t have a chance.”
The Executive Director of the group American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) is urging the motorcycling community to remain united and not let the tragic events further tear them apart.
“This tragic event is absolutely charged with emotion,” Jay Jackson said in a post on the group’s website. “However, if we truly wish to win the war, rather than just a battle, we must not simply react with emotion, but instead employ a strategy that is proactive.”
Jackson said while those upset have a right to protest, ABATE is focused on finding a solution through the Statehouse and the Indiana General Assembly to prevent something like this from happening again.
Big 3 News attempted to reach Jackson seeking clarification on what proactive actions are being considered, and what other solutions the group would suggest to those impacted by this tragedy. As of this posting, we have not received a reply back.
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