In Indianapolis’s second-largest legal settlement to date, the family of Eric Wells, a motorcyclist killed by a speeding police car two years ago, has received $1.5 million from the municipal government. While stopped at a red light with some other motorcycle enthusiasts, Wells was struck from behind and killed by a policeman driving a city police vehicle. Officer David Bisard’s actions at the time of the crash are a triumvirate of dangerous driving practices: he was drunk (technically only allegedly — see suspicious circumstances below), he was speeding towards a non-emergency he was not dispatched to, and to top it all off, he was using his in-car police computer for non-police purposes while driving. Any one of those details on their own would be enough for a hefty civil case. Combined, it seems to any observer that the man is justly doomed to a life in jail. In fact, a criminal trial for reckless homicide and criminal recklessness are still pending, along with two more civil cases for the two motorcyclists he only injured. So what’s the hold up?
Astute readers may notice that “drunk driving” was not among the charges in Bisard’s current criminal case. It was, at first. Seven felony counts of it. At the scene of the crash, a vial of Bisard’s blood was taken to determine his BAC content. Later, a second vial was taken to confirm, as per procedure. The first vial was vital to the prosecution’s argument of drunk driving. It showed that Bisard had a .19 BAC immediately after the crash, more than twice the legal limit. However, a judge ruled that the technician who drew the blood was not licensed to do so, and so the vial was not allowed to be used as evidence for the drunk driving charge (it can be used, interestingly, in the other two charges). Not too big a deal, since there exists a second vial, correct? Well, the second vial went into refrigerated storage at IMPD headquarters. Sometime in the last six months, it was moved to a non-refrigerated area. Whether the vial will be admissible in court remains to be seen: while a judge ruled that it could be tested, defense attorneys have filed a motion to block the testing of the vial.
Will justice prevail? The parents of Eric Wells say “not until David Bisard is behind bars.” I tend to agree. A settlement does something to assuage the pain during this uncommonly long trial process. Sure, $1.5 million is a lot of money, but there is no dollar sign that can be put in place of a human life. The crash is the fault of a person that society had assigned to protect life, a person who should have known better than any other motorist on that road. It is only luck that has aided him with the mysterious disappearance of a damning vial of blood, and luck always runs out. In the interest of justice, something has to go right in this case — keep an eye out for the eventual trial, for it’s sure to be interesting.