The Herald Bulletin

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December 10, 2012

Blood drawn from Indy cop after crash OK for trial

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Supreme Court on Monday let stand a ruling saying blood was drawn properly from an allegedly intoxicated Indianapolis police officer after a 2010 fatal crash. But the officer's attorney said it's uncertain whether the evidence can be introduced at trial.

The high court on Monday agreed with an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling allowing evidence that showed Officer David Bisard had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 percent — more than twice the legal limit — when his cruiser plowed into two motorcycles stopped at a traffic light, killing Eric Well and critically injuring two other people in 2010.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry says that means the sample can be used to support drunken driving and criminal recklessness charges against Bisard.

However, Bisard's attorney, John Kautzman, said he can still challenge admission of the blood at trial regarding its chain of custody and says the sample's credibility before a jury also remains in doubt.

"There's challenges that can occur at the trial stage," Kautzman said. Bisard faces charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, reckless homicide and criminal recklessness.

The Court of Appeals ruled in September that a Marion County judge erred in determining the blood drawn from Bisard after the Aug. 6, 2010, crash was inadmissible because it was drawn by a medical assistant, a profession not included among those listed in Indiana law that are allowed to draw blood in drunken driving cases.

Former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi stunned the victims and public when he dropped drunken driving charges against Bisard just days after they were filed, which he did because of the discrepancy. After taking office last year, Curry refiled the charges against Bisard.

Marion County Judge Grant Hawkins subsequently ruled the blood couldn't be used as evidence of drunken driving but could be used to support a reckless homicide charge. The appeals court then ruled legislators clearly hadn't intended for key evidence to be thrown out on a technicality.

Curry said Monday he hopes the Bisard case goes to trial next year, but a trial date has not been set. Hawkins last week agreed to move the trial out of the Indianapolis media market because of the case's extensive publicity, but the new venue might not be known until the next hearing in February.

Hawkins has allowed prosecutors to test a second blood sample despite objections by Kautzman that it was mishandled by police technicians. The results of those tests haven't been released.

The city of Indianapolis has agreed to pay settlements totaling $3.85 million to Wells' family and the other two motorcyclists hurt in the crash.

 

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