Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What we get paid the big bucks for.

An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer named David Bisard killed Eric Wells on August 6th, and critically wounded two others, when he drove his police car into the motorcycles that they were riding. Bisard was running lights and siren to a call for service. (To serve a felony warrant? Strange.)

Bisard's blood alcohol level was later found to be 0.19%.

The chief is making lots of appropriate noises. The Mayor is, too, with a possible rush to judgement about Bisard's co-workers, saying that "Someone knew of the human weakness that was present and failed to act or to inform others." Probably. But not necessarily.

The IMPD says that they just drew Bisard's blood as a normal procedure, and didn't get the criminal investigation on Bisard started until after they got his BAC results back on August 10th, because they saw no evidence of his being intoxicated. If that's the case, then Bisard really is a long-time drunk. At that level of intoxication (more than double the legal limit), I would be doing well to simply stand up and walk. Everyone within 50 feet of me would know that something was seriously wrong with me, were I at that level of intoxication.

But I've missed the occasional drunk before. Masking agents, showers, distractions, inability to smell, and presupposition of innocence have all caused me to believe that a person was sober when later evidence indicated that the person was not. (In at least one case, the evidence was the statement by the drunk.)

Good on the IMPD for proceeding with a criminal case against their officer. Want to see the seven charges they put together against their own officer? See them here. In that PDF is also the Probable Cause Affidavit at the end. I note that the affiant is Sgt. Douglas Heustis of the IMPD. They're throwing the book at their own.

But I'm irritated by the Fraternal Order of Police President Bill Owensby's comments. See, back in April, Bisard got in a shootout with a bank robber, and won the fight. Bisard was commended for the good shoot, and received a medal. But here's what Owensby claims that
"The officer's a victim in this to some extent and it's, there's just no, there's nothing good that you can say about this. The whole thing is just a tragedy."
[Emphasis mine.]
He says,
"Not only is he faced with having to have taken a human life, but he heard the bullets whizzing by his head at the same time," Owensby said. He said, "If all this pans out to be true, I don't know if that played a role in this. I don't know how it couldn't have."
Now, to give the F.O.P. their due, they are distancing from Bisard, saying that the accident is inexcusable (after having just made an excuse), and only ask for a DNA test of the blood to show that it came from Bisard.

But friends, that's what we get paid the big bucks for. If we can't handle a shootout with the bad guys, in which we come out of it uninjured but for the weight of the medal on our chest, then we shouldn't get into this profession. When you win a fight, you should not dwell on being the star of your own victimology movie. Move on, bolstered by the knowledge that when the balloon goes up, you can do what needs doing. (Unless you're drunk. Then go do nothing, beyond learning how to deal with life unaided by ethanol.)

Let's have no more talk about David Bisard being a "victim." He killed one, injured two, and endangered countless others. He could have pulled his car over at any time and stopped. He's not the victim. He's a criminal. May his trial be just, and productive.

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At Thursday, August 12, 2010 12:32:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

He's definitely NOT the victim...

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 12:39:00 PM, Blogger Justthisguy said...

Heh. "masking agents". I mind one of my favorite old movies, a talkie so early that Clark Gable had no moustache:


The "hostess" of the "sailors' entertainment facility" accused Wallace Beery of having been drinking. Her evidence? He had been chewing cloves.

Oh, remember Sen-Sen?

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 12:46:00 PM, Blogger Justthisguy said...

Winning a fight, deadly or not, or even winning a ball game, doesn't make you a victim, it makes you feel like a winner, because you are.

This also makes you more attractive to the wimminz, who love a winner.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 2:14:00 PM, Blogger Medic3 said...

While the preliminary evidence (striking two motorcycles, responding L&S to a warrant, BAC from routine blood draw) appears quite damning, please remember that he is entitled to his day(s) in court.

It is possible that he had tied one on the night before and believed himself sober, having allowed himself X hours to do so.

If blood results became available several days after the fact, that raises the question of sample storage. Was there microbial fermentation of the sample related to high storage temperature or low preservative in the blood vials?

Was there site contamination? If rubbing alcohol was used to clean the venipuncture site, was it allowed to dry completely before the needle stick?

The latter two possibilities are not blown smoke; they are supported by evidence. (Please forgive that the links are defense lawyer sites).

Especially when the blood draw was performed as part of "routine" post-collision testing, always consider the sample collection and storage methods as they may not conform with the standards for forensic work.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 2:23:00 PM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

If only...

If only all our police around this great nation (from the chiefs down to the newest rookie) had as much integrity and honor in their whole bodies as you have in your littlest toe. (Oh, I know that there are many that do, and that the good guys far outweigh the bad. It just irks me when things like this happen, and a police dept. spends more time covering their collective ass than ousting the idjit.)

Instead, we are too often treated to the likes of the FOP spokesperson and police union media representatives who seek to do everything they can to protect the bad apples.

Irritating. But, props to the IMPD for not trying to candy coat it, and act as though he is too good to be charged or fired.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 3:05:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Medic3, you could have saved yourself a bit of typing by reading the PC affidavit, which I linked.

I've NEVER seen a phlebotomist reach for an alcohol prep pad during a legal blood draw. Also, legal blood draw kits have routinely come with a betadine swab for the decade that I've messed with 'em. But the affiant referenced that iodine was used to clean the site.

The affiant refers to putting the blood sample into IMPD evidence storage, and the test was performed 4 days later (quick turn-around!). If this sample is suspect, then ALL IMPD blood samples are suspect.

Given that it was a fatality, and that the A team was investigating it, I tend to think that the "routine" is what keeps them in business. "Routinely" get a blood draw. "Routinely" witness it, and observe that proper evidence collection procedures are performed. "Routinely" assure that evidence transfer and storage protocols are observed.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 3:35:00 PM, Blogger Medic3 said...

The affidavit states that the tech used a betadine prep on the subject's right arm and drew two vials of blood. There is no mention as to whether the skin was "pre-prepped" with an alcohol pad, which will sometimes be done for "cleaning" prior to the betadine "sterilizing". While this is seldom done for the forensic blood draws, it remains as a possibility.

Sample storage at above 40 degrees F and/or lower than optimal preservative in the blood tubes can result in fermentation of the blood sample where yeast is present (est 20-30% population). The state LEOs of Utah were routinely using 1% NaF instead of the needed 2% NaF preservative solution. 1% NaF is fine for in hospital draws that are sent directly to the lab, but not for those that are stored prior to the lab assays.

No worries about the typing, and I had read the charging statement. All I wanted to do was point out that the discrepancy between "no sign of intoxication" and "0.19 BAC" can be explained with something other than "guilty, guilty, guilty."

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 3:37:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

You're far too kind, Shrimp. I'm not at all the minority among cops in my opinions about this, I feel sure.

And I'm probably being too hard on the FOP spokesman, who's really just mouthing words to try to grease the wheels for the next case, so that he can blah blah blah about the "stresses of the job," and then demand more benefits.

Oh, I'm sorry-- do I sound a little down on unions? Of all kinds?

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 3:53:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

First, the alcohol in the prep pads is a boooooooogus red herring, and is provably so. Following standard procedures for performing a stick, you can prep me for twenty sticks with alcohol, draw the standard amount of blood, and I'll bet you dinner for two at the restaurant of your choice that you can't contaminate the blood with a detectable level of alcohol above .005% BAC. I've got to get a lab who will let me run 20 samples all at once, without charging me. "It's for science!"

Hm. I'm beginning to consider changing my thesis topic...

The storage/fermentation issue is one worth considering. The courts are still allowing us to submit blood that was not actually refrigerated, but was merely kept within the window, as you alluded to. What IS being challenged is whether the preservative was properly mixed into the blood. I have taken to noting in my field notes the number of times that the phlebotomist inverted the collection tube at the time, and I make a point of putting the stuff into an air-conditioned environment as soon as I leave the hospital. Since we're using the kits that our DA wants us to use, presumably at the direction of our regional technical director, I think we're good on the kits themselves.

The PC affidavit was unusually informative about the procedure for drawing the blood. Probably that indicates that the PC Aff was drawn from the officer's supplemental report narrative, or because the blood evidence is the star of the show. That two vials were drawn was important, and unusual to note in the PC Aff.

Frankly? Between you, me, and this blog? I wonder if the investigating officer didn't have his suspicions.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 4:42:00 PM, Blogger Medic3 said...

Honestly, I agree with you that the investigating officer had his suspicions based on the report. But I take issue with the presumption of guilt and verdict-by-media, so I figured on bringing up the known issues with blood assay BAC.

While I tend to agree that an alcohol skin prep is likely overstated contamination, the smaller the sample size, the greater the effect of the contamination. With two vials drawn, the contamination would be non-existent in the second vial drawn. I am presuming that it is the 5-10cc vials, which may show some BAC elevation, but not nearly enough to go from "near zero" to 0.19.

As to sticking you 20 times, sounds like a good plan next time I'm in N.Tx. That may just be worth the price of dinner for two. If I use the geriatric/pediatric vials, I expect that I could produce the requisite level of contamination (especially if I stick through the alcohol being still wet). So how many of those vials do I need to produce contamination in to consider it a valid test? Will there be some additional control sticks? Do you like being made a pincushion? =)

Wonder if the TSA will look at me funny bringing all of that equipment on a plane with me...

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 4:52:00 PM, Anonymous roy in nipomo said...

Of the three officers (small town agencies) I know who were in officer involved shootings (suspects didn't survive), all three left law enforcement within two years of the incident (one was a former Marine, 'Nam Vet [time spend in-country]).

Taking a life can be traumatic for people who care about their fellow man. Some can get through the experience and some can't. I don't know if it would be easier in big city environments (where there is more likely to be a "them or us" mindset).

If truly he had a .19 BA and very limited symptoms, then you are probably correct that he has had a long term problem.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 5:37:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Nope, I would use standard blood draw kit vials, which I believe are 10cc.

New clean and wipe for each stick.

If ANY of them brought the BAC up to .005%, yer a winnah! (No fair pooling it in the small of the arm.)

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 5:41:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

But Roy, how good were the shoots perceived as being?

I know several officers and former officers who shot people, who kept their jobs and their careers. I know some that shot at people, who did fine.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 6:12:00 PM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

With regard to his shoot and its possible PTSD effect on him, Tam points out on VFTP that officer idjit has done the drinkin-drivin act before. 5 times. Well before he had to take out the trash, as it were.

I suspect the dept (or people within said dept) knew what was up, but never put a stop to it, 'til now.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 6:54:00 PM, Blogger Will said...

CHP has two briefs: keep the traffic moving, and hunt for DUI's. They still miss a few they interact with.
When I drove a CHP tow truck, I had to have dispatch send them back a few times to grab the drivers of disabled vehicles they had called me to help. I could see it when I would have them do something that the officers normally didn't. Such as handle their vehicle while being pushed a short distance to a wider shoulder, that sort of thing. When they forget to use the brakes, or can't remember to use the parking brake, it gets your attention! Then my biggest worry was getting CHP back before the commercial tow truck could whisk them away. Well, that and them wandering into traffic.

At Thursday, August 12, 2010 7:02:00 PM, Blogger Will said...

One DUI I recall was at 6:am. Officer didn't get past the first exit from coming on duty. Illegal alien on his way to work!

At Friday, August 13, 2010 4:55:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

"Tam points out on VFTP that officer idjit has done the drinkin-drivin act before."

Tam doesn't know that he had 5 prior DWI's. Tam knows that the news story reports that he's had five documented minor car wrecks while on duty. They could be connected, and they might not be.

At Friday, August 13, 2010 6:32:00 AM, Anonymous roy in nipomo said...

Matt, all three were deemed righteous. In two of the cases, the suspects shot first (the former Marine took two to the shock plate before he managed to return fire - suffered blunt force trauma only). And they weren't rookies, the most junior had over 10 yrs and the other two had over 20 each.

I wasn't saying that you can't be involved in something like this and continue to do your job; I was indicating that it can throw enormous (sometimes overwhelming) stress on an officer.

If this case is as so far reported, though, it sounds like the officer involved possibly had a long term problem with alcohol (also not unheard of in law enforcement). The shooting may have aggravated his problem, but not excused it.

I was only a civilian (retired after 35 yrs), so what do I know.

At Monday, August 16, 2010 7:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bisard's attorney has announced that he will challenge the blood draw.

Shootin' Buddy

At Monday, August 16, 2010 9:59:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

He kind of has to, doesn't he?

He'll also attack the credibility of the investigating officers, and likely the lab and the pathologists.

At the same time, he'll cover his bases by bringing up the stresses of being an officer who had to deal with boolitz whizzin' overhead.

At Tuesday, August 17, 2010 8:53:00 AM, Blogger Tam said...

"Bisard's attorney has announced that he will challenge the blood draw."

It's pretty much that or have his client plead guilty, isn't it? What else does he have?

At Sunday, August 22, 2010 10:27:00 PM, Blogger Rita said...

A family member is an IMPD officer and before all of the challenging and charge dropping occurred, he said said that the blood draw was skewed, rubbed with alcohol and that it wouldn't stick.

He said that no one, no one on the scene detected the officer was intoxicated. Granted a serious alcoholic is hard to detect, but registering .19 three hours later makes me believe he could not have appeared sober to anyone.

As my IMPD officer said, "Only Bisard and God know if he was really drunk." A past history of DUI would definitely change my mind, but I do NOT believe this was some sort of cover up by the IMPD.

I do not think the officer is a victim, at best he was seriously negligent. I feel for the cyclists and their families. The incident is inexcusable.

But the local news now seem bent on proving how corrupt all of our officers are. Nearly all are good men and women that risk their lives on a daily basis. Bisard is the exception to the rule.

At Tuesday, February 14, 2012 5:14:00 PM, Anonymous Lyla Burns said...

Thank you for sharing. He is not the victim in this case. I appreciate the fact that they are treating him to the regular routine and not just giving him special treatment for being a police officer. This kind of stuff should not be taken lightly. I'm from Utah and I believe that an officer here in his situation would be required to get a dui lawyer utah and follow the steps that a "non-police officer" would have to follow. Thanks for sharing, and I appreciate your integrity that you represent.

At Wednesday, February 15, 2012 2:50:00 PM, Blogger natdalton said...

I agree with Lyla. He is definitely not the victim in this case. I am happy to hear that he has to get his own Utah DUI lawyer and be tried like any other citizen. Thanks for sharing such a great post!

At Wednesday, February 15, 2012 3:29:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

As this post had nothing to do with Utah, and given the above two comments on an old post link to a Utah DWI defense site, I'm guessing that the last two comments are a form of spam.

That said, they're an interesting form of it, so I'll let them stand.


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