"Professional Courtesy" May Help Indy Cop Escape Hard Time

I've written before about the "professional courtesy" problem, where police officers let fellow officers off the hook for driving while intoxicated (see here, here, and here). The latest example comes from Indianapolis, where on August 6, Officer David Bisard struck two motorcycles stopped at a red light, killing one person and critically injuring two others. Police reports initially blamed the bikers for the accident, though subsequent reports confirm that the motorcyclists were doing exactly what they're supposed to do when an emergency vehicle approaches. According to the Indianapolis Star, Bisard has an aggressive history on the road. He had more vehicle pursuits than any other cop in Marion County. In two years he'd had 14 such pursuits, with five collisions.

None of the officers who responded on August 6 thought to give Bisard a breath test, or apparently even suspect him of being drunk. At first blush perhaps that's understandable, given that Bisard was on-duty at the time. But when he was finally given a blood test more than two hours after the accident, he tested at .19. (This is more aggravating when you consider how adept police officers seem to be at detecting booze on citizens who aren't cops. Last May I was pulled over by an Indiana State Trooper. I'd had two beers over four hours, plus eaten a big dinner, yet he still claimed he was "nearly knocked out by the stench of booze rolling out" of my car. Long story short: I politely asserted my rights and got neither the undeserved DWI, nor the speeding ticket (which I probably deserved)).

Prosecutors initially filed a host of DWI-related charges against Bisard. But on August 19, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi announced he had no choice but to drop the most serious charges because Bisard's blood had been drawn by an uncertified lab tech. And because none of Brisard's fellow officers apparently noticed his intoxication at the scene of the accident, there was no admissible evidence that Brisard was drunk when he caused the crash.

In the face of a pretty furious public backlash, there have at least been some consequences: According to the Star, Brisard does still face a lesser charge of reckless homicide, plus added charges of criminal recklessness. IMPD officials dismissed Lt. George Crooks as coordinator of the multiagency Fatal Alcohol Crash Team, and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced last week that Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce, Deputy Chief Ron Hicks, and Commander John Conley would all be demoted for the handling of Bisard's case.

A final bit of irony:

As a member of the Noblesville Police Department in the late 1990s, he received awards two years in a row from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and won commendations four years in a row.

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  • ||

    my nuts still hurt

  • Pip||

    "I've written before about the "professional courtesy" problem, where police officers let fellow officers off the hook for driving while intoxicated"

    Dunphy! Come out come out where ever you are!

  • Coeus||

    I think he's gonna sit this one out. He's a cop, so he's more likely a sadist than a masochistic.

  • ||

    the "professional courtesy" problem

    We had one here in Central Ohio recently.

    A State Trooper pulled over two motorcycles clocked at 140MPH+... After he approached them, he discovered both were cops (one of whom was collecting a "dis-ability check")-- and then, the Trooper simply turned off his dashboard camera.

    It took 5 days for a "speeding ticket" to be issued (140 in a 55!)- and nobody lost their job...

  • Warty||

    NINETY NINE PERCENTAGE OF POLICE OFICERS ARE GOOD DONT LET A FEW BAD APPLE MAKE YOU THINK THEY ALL IS BAD

  • ||

    STEVE(N) SMITH RAPE BAD PO-PO, SO THERE NO PROBLEM ANY MORE! ALL PO-PO GOOD NOW!

  • ||

    Since the alleged '99 percent' good officers protect, cover up for, lie for, etc. the alleged 'few bad apples', the there is no way to tell the good ones from the bad.

    You want the civilians to stop fearing, loathing etc. the 'good' officers, then the 'thin blue line' has to get rid of their 'few bad apples'.

  • Tom||

    You're joking, right?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    At the risk of being Tulpa, I actually find the cops explanation of why they didn't check him for alcohol immediately afterward somewhat plausable. Not excusable, but also possibly not part of a coverup.

    That having been said (I speak aloud to myself what I write), it is a little suspicious that they just happened to have an uncertified lab tech draw the blood. I would like to know how often this happens to civilians.

  • ||

    1. I personally know of another case where a civilian had DUI charges dropped for an almost identical reason.

    However...

    2. Maybe the cops were reasonable, or not. Maybe lab tech was an accident, or not. But I think Radley's main point is: this sequence of events would NEVER, EVER have happened if the guy wasn't a cop. There is no equal justice under law.

  • ||

    Bullshit. Anyone else they would have tested immediately, even if they were bleeding out.

    The lab tech was just an "Oooopsie! Did we that?" just as a value added benefit for the victims' families.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    In my experience, LEO see everyone they meet on the job as a criminal... except one of their own. I can definitely see the possibility that it never crossed their minds that the guy was drunk.

    And, if hours later his level was that high, and the guy was at any level functional, he's an alcoholic, and those are not as easily spotted, especially if the person is already reacting emotionally, as he would have been having just killed someone.

    I'm just saying it's plausible (spelling it correctly this time) not necessarily what took place.

    It is strange that none of his colleagues noticed that he was an alcoholic at any point before that.

  • Greer||

    If he had .19 2 hours later, he must have been shit faced at the scene. I guess if he's an alcoholic, he may seem reasonable at .19 but he would have to smell of it and I still think it should be obvious, if you're looking for it.

  • Greer||

    And the next DUI caught by these cops would seen to have a nice defence... you couldn't spot a .19 last time, how did you know my client was drunk?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Probably wouldn't work, but the pure discomforture to the officer involved would be a sight to see.

  • Greer||

    You're probably right, but still their credibility would have to be in question.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Agree with you on your puzzlement that a guy who had a .19 BAC didn't have any indicia that he was intoxicated or that his fellow officers didn't know he was a boozer.

    Courtesy like this isn't limited to law enforcement. Harris County is currently trying to clean the egg off their face from letting an intox. manslaughter suspect flee to Nepal. http://www.chron.com/disp/stor.....10761.html Short version is the guy killed three girls in a car accident on a Friday night, gave blood, and somehow the blood results didn't make it to the D.A. until Monday. By which time, not being a dummy, the guy in the country on a student visa was well on his way to Nepal. No extradition from Nepal, BTW. Good thing he didn't establish his innocence by blowing, huh? I have no idea why things went haywire in this case, but I've never heard of BAC blood results taking two days + to come back from a lab.

    The second case was where a drunk UC Sheriff's Department deputy rear-ended a delivery truck on a freeway frontage road, killing himself. The deputy was in his personal vehicle. http://www.chron.com/disp/stor.....17158.html The deputy, Craig Miller, had a .27 BAC. Naturally, they charged the delivery driver with criminally negligent homicide. He was held in jail for 9 months before charges were dropped (Can't find whether it was no bail---the driver was an illegal from Latin America---or just extremely high bail)

    Finally, the case of Houston's ex-mayor, and current candidate for Texas Governor, Bill White's daughter. Daughter was popped for suspicion of DWI driving home from a high school party. Since she was under 21, zero tolerance for BAC. I invite you to google (lest I offend the squirrels with another link) accounts of how the arresting officer testified on the stand. (He basically committed verbal seppaku.) Daughter was found not guilty.

    Anecdotes do not equal data, but you stack enough of them together and it beggars the belief that police and politicos live by the same rules the rest of us do.

  • Mad Scientist||

    Ture, anecdotes do not equal data. Nevertheless, here's another anecdote for you. About 15 years ago in northern Ohio my brother was waiting to make a left turn on a 2-lane road with a center turn lane. He was rear-ended by an off-duty cop driving his personal van. The cop stayed in his van and never once came to check on my brother, or my mom in the passenger seat, or my dad who was in the back seat. Why not? Well, he was pretty shit faced. Another cop arrived to "investigate" and apparantly he was also unable to determine that his buddy had done anything wrong. In fact, he cited my brother for failing to pull completely into the turn lane, which was total BS. But by the time they could get back to the intersection to at least photograph all the broken glass in the turn lane, it had magically been swept clean. There were also no skid marks since the drunk cop never even bothered to hit the brakes. End result, cop got off scott free and my mom and dad had about 25 grand in medical bills.

    I wonder, had my brother been the drunk who rear-ended the cop, how things might have turned out differently...

  • ||

    I have personal experience with this. I was hit by a drunk driver on my motorcycle. As I sat in the middle of the street with a beat up body and broken foot various cops would come over while I was waiting for the EMTs and badger me about being drunk.

    I finally started telling them how stupid they were, "hey idiot, I might have internal injuries, etc."

    Then when I was in the ambulance another cop tried to get in with a breathalyzer. It told him to get the f**k out of there. Thankfully the EMT said the exact same thing.

    I've never liked cops but that was the last straw.

  • ||

    He had more vehicle pursuits than any other cop in Marion County. In two years he'd had 14 such pursuits, and five collisions.

    And no arrests, I'll bet.

  • ||

    "Long story short: I politely asserted my rights and got neither the undeserved DWI, nor the speeding ticket (which I probably deserved))."

    I'd like to hear the details of this. How do you politely assert your rights when an officer says you are drunk?

  • ||

    Curse your nimble hands. Unless you're a chick, in which case: How you doin'?

  • ||

    I would like to hear the details as well.

  • Radley Balko||

    It's actually a pretty amusing story, but one I'd rather not detail in a public forum. Come to a Reason event sometime and I'll tell you all about it.

    But to vaguely answer your question, in most states, you're allowed to refuse the roadside sobriety test. If you refuse the breath test, they can suspend your license. But you can refuse the sobriety test. And in most places you have to fail the sobriety test (or meet the reasonable suspicion standard in some other way) before they can give you the breath test.

    Oh, and in many states they're also allowed to lie to you about all of this.

    (This is not legal advice.)

  • ||

    According to this link you can refuse the field sobriety test in all states!

    http://dui-lawyer-la.com/dui-t.....ety-tests/

  • ||

    The linked article seemed pretty reasonable until I checked what they wrote about breath tests:

    Unless you are under 21 or on parole, you have the right to refuse a roadside breath test (PAS test) in California and all other US states. It is 100% voluntary. There are no penalties for refusing a roadside breath test.

    At least in Massachusetts your license is suspended for at least 180 days if you refuse to take the breath test.

    So, I cannot take seriously their advice on the field sobriety tests either.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Grrizzly, is the article distinguishing between refusing to blow into the BAC machine at the station vs blowing into the little handheld meter at the scene?

    I can see why you'd be sanctioned for refusing to blow at the station, and yet not be sanctioned for refusing at the scene. Were it me, I'd insist (as much as I could in the particular state), on getting a blood draw.

    Or simply refusing all tests period and taking my chances with the administrative hearing. Now that we have "no-refusal" weekends, we can experience the joys of forcible blood withdrawal by a poorly trained police officer.

    I tell you, 1984 and The Gulag Archipelago were meant to be warnings, not how-to books.

  • ||

    I think if you read all of the short articles on that website it will become clearer.

    Bottom line, you don't have to take the field sobriety test, and you don't have to submit to the field breathalyzer. If, and only IF, you are first arrested must you then submit to a chemical alcohol test (blood or urine). The point of the article is that the field sobriety test, and the field breathalyzer test are administered to generate probable cause to arrest you. If you politely refuse those tests, then the officer has to rely on other information for probable cause.

    Obviously, the best way to avoid a DUI arrest is to not drink and drive in the first place.

  • ||

    I politely asserted my rights and got neither the undeserved DWI

    I'm curious what you did here, Radley. Did you refuse the breath test and insist on a blood test instead? Or did you just stick with "are you detaining me, or am I free to go?"

  • Almanian||

    BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALKOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

    "What we did, is we stayed put. It's what we are supposed to do. The only avenue for the cop is the left-turn lane, and that was free."

    Jesus FUCKING Christ, this cop deserves a bullet to the forehead. "Police reports initially blamed the bikers for the accident..." Yeah, being stopped at a stoplight is NOT the correct behavior. Those fuckers that tried to pawn it off on the bikers deserve a kick in the nuts as accessories to murder, as well. FUCK!!

    Get that fucktsick dunphy back here to tell us all how much the public loves the cops - cause I'm sure it will undo all the carnage from Balko's latest example of Wild Pig Syndrome.

    *angrily closes browser and returns to work*

  • Almanian||

    I'm a little biased as a moorsicklist who got taken out once by a truck in Toledo - not fun :)

  • ||

    I agree. Where is the prosecution for perjury of the cops at the scene?
    Again, the lab tech not certified?
    It seems pretty obvious that the prosecutor is playing dumb. If the roles were reversed, the proscutor would have every relative of the people being investigated being threatened with prosecution for something, and having their children put in foster care.

  • ||

    It's too bad the bystanders didn't just stone Bisard to death on the spot, and hang him from a lamppost.

  • Pip||

    It's trending that direction...

  • ||

    (This is not legal advice.)

    I went to court to fight a radar speeding ticket, many years ago. After the official decision (Wyoming 1; P Brooks 0) the judge, in his closing remarks, basically gave me a detailed lesson on how to fight a radar ticket. Short version: facts and common sense are irrelevant; you have to impugn the machine by casting doubt on the calibration.

    And- if the cop sits there with a straight face and tells the judge you were going 150 mph guzzling whiskey from a wooden keg and steering with your feet, his credibility as a witness is absolute.

  • Greer||

    My brother got off of a radar speeding ticket once because he got the ticket at 3:02 and the radar was only authorized to be there until 3:00. He had tried the calibration thing, but the time is what got him off.

  • Daniel||

    One cop may get his job back:
    http://www.indystar.com/articl.....reinstated

  • ||

    MADD is such bullshit — cop worshiping prohibitionists, nothing more.

    And because none of Brisard’s fellow officers apparently noticed his intoxication at the scene of the accident, there was no admissible evidence that Brisard was drunk when he caused the crash.

    No input from EMS-type folks on this one? You’d think they’d have at least checked Bisard out for injuries after he was involved in a fatal accident.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    I can just see the reaction of the other cops and EMS workers when they arrive on scene and start realizing what happened.

    "Ah, shit, it's a COP whose drunk, not just one of those mere CIVILIANS."

    "Quick, let's get him over here in our car..."

    Fuckity fuckity fuck fuck fuck is what this story makes me say.

  • ||

    Are EMS workers typically that far in the law enforcement pocket? That's sort of what I was trying to get at above -- how do medical responders typically interact with cops? Deferent as can be?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    In my somewhat limited experience, yes, the EMS workers tend not to piss in the cops' Cheerios, because they have to work with them alot, and some of them - only some, mind you - have a similar mentality that they are somehow "other than" the "civilians." They get to run red lights with their sirens and stuff.

    I don't know whether it's fair to say that EMS workers, in general, are so wed to the cops that they would cover for them, but I'm sure there are those who will defer to them this way.

  • ||

    Yeah, I mean cops so seldom get caught in stuff like this, that there must be more than one "good" EMT out there.

  • ||

    I dont think its being "wed" to the cops so much as "you punkass medics say anything and you'll have us to deal with."

  • ||

    Its my understanding that protocol in any crash involving an injury is to test all participants.

    So, the only thing that makes this "understandable" is that we all know that cops don't do other cops dirty, even when there are dead bodies littering the street.

  • BakedPenguin||

    What's the website? "Cops Writing Cops" or some such?

    BTW, my one LEO friend has told me that he does not wear or display his uniform in his car when driving to work because he thinks the double standard is BS.

  • Daniel||

    "So, the only thing that makes this "understandable" is that we all know that cops don't do other cops dirty, even when there are dead bodies littering the street."

    Pretty much....

  • SFC B||

    There is no way, no how, that a Soldier involved in a similar incident could get away with this without clear and massive fraud on the part of the Soldier's leadership. If there's an accident causing injury or property damage the operator(s) and all assisting them are given a urinalysis, and the question "Was anyone high or drunk?" is something that must be answered quickly.

    I know it shouldn't amaze me, but it does, that police in the US are held to a lower standard of accountability than Soldiers in an active combat zone.

  • Hockey Guy||

    How fucking hard is it to draw blood? You push the needle in and the fucking blood pressure fills the god damn tube. I could draw my own blood for christ sake. And how the fuck does this disqualify the results?

    / rant

  • Joshua||

    There's always a civil wrongful death suit. Lower threshold than criminal charges.

  • Gray Ghost||

    "There's always a civil wrongful death suit. Lower threshold than criminal charges."

    Have fun overcoming the LEO's qualified immunity from suit. I'm guessing he was on his way to a call (emergency lights flashing and all that); he was just shit-faced when he was doing it. Hey, maybe it's not that hard of a hurdle to overcome. I'm not familiar with Indiana tort law.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    The part of that I've never understood is how, assuming he's convicted of something in this matter, he can still have the immunity for acts committed in the commission of a crime.

    Surely being beyond the limits of lawful behavior also puts him outside the bounds of his job. Right? Right?!?

    But maybe I'm stupid or something.

  • LarryA||

    In two years he'd had 14 such pursuits, with five collisions.

    So he crashed 36% of the time? Tad high.

  • People Power Hour||

    Bisard should be pistol-whipped, set alight, and then doused in some very rancid urine. Then it should all be repeated about 500 times or until he shoots himself.

  • ||

    Excuse my language...but...lock his ass up! Fucking rediculous. I dare one person to read the facts and still say this 'officer' is innocent!

  • chanel bag||

    keep it up

  • alex||

    Eh,what is the professional courtesy" problem?

  • tods shoes||

    I beays by dre,beays by dre believe that we are not real social workers.

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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