Thursday, August 12, 2010

More on Officer OWI...

The mayor and the police chief were on the local news station at 0mygod30 this morning to give an interview about the police officer who drunkenly piloted his Crown Vic through three motorcycles while running code last Friday, killing one rider and leaving the other two in critical condition.

The crash happened fairly early in the day, according to an earlier news piece:
Just before the crash Bisard got an oil change and had his children in the cruiser before starting work around 8:30 Friday morning.

"Took his children to a soccer camp, went back home and took a shower and put his uniform on. He was westbound on 56th when he received the run to assist," said Chief Ciesielski.
Apparently the sun's over the yardarm early at the Bisard residence.

This morning, the chief and the mayor were all kinds of contrite and apologetic, but also wanted to point out that Bisard had received the department's medal of valor not two weeks before the incident for his actions in the aftermath of a bank robbery on the south side last April. Officer Bisard tracked down the AK-wielding robber and, in an exchange of gunfire, took him down with his patrol carbine, killing him. The implication, of course, being that this left him with the Mark of Cain and he climbed into the bottle as a result.

That, however, doesn't account for the five earlier incidents where Bisard had used the front bumper of his patrol car to defend himself from a variety of objects that leaped out in front of him, including a fence, a pole, and one of those agile and aggressive concrete retaining walls. There would appear to be a problem here that runs further back than the incident with the bank robber, although I'm sure that didn't help, since our culture conditions people to feel gnawing guilt over the taking of a human life, no matter how necessary or deserved.

For their part, the Fraternal Order of Police is merely going to ask that the blood sample be DNA-matched to confirm it's Bisard's and, if it matches, they'll be washing their hands of him.


Living in Babylon said...

When I saw this all I could read was "Officer OWIE"

Still kind of appropriate I guess.

ZerCool said...

also wanted to point out that Bisard had received the department's medal of valor not two weeks before

As the old Hollywood/Washington saying goes, "That's nice, but what have you done for me today?"

When "today's" list includes wrecking a patrol car and, oops, by the way, killing a motorcyclist and costing the city a Whole Lot Of Money, "before" really doesn't matter so much.

And good on the FOP for getting out of this one.

Matt G said...

The little scrapes aren't necessarily alcohol-fueled. I've got couple of documented accidents in a cruiser, and have NEVER driven while intoxicated, nor ever been on duty or in a uniform with a drop of alcohol in my system.

But if you drive anybody's company car, be it IMPD or FedEx, you're accountable for every little scratch to the paint while you are at the wheel.

Matt G said...

Oh, and good on the FOP for ditching him. It would be a crazy thing for them to back him. But then comes this ridiculous quote by Owensby:

"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," Owensby said.

Good Gawd. He killed a person, and put two in the hospital with critical injuries. Yes, he survived the shootout back in April, and won it. He was lauded for what he did. He got a phuquing medal for putting down a bad man. Calling him "victim" for that is ridiculous. That's what he got paid the big bucks for.

Tam said...


True enough. It's the frequency and the fact that over half of them involved stationary objects that makes me suspicious, but suspicious is all it is. It's certainly not any kind of damning evidence.

Anonymous said...

Matt you keep beating around the edges of defending this murderer. Innocent 'til proven and all of that I know, but a visit to the morgue or the bedside of those mowed down should provide plenty of uh, "proof", as it were.

Ask and answer yourself this question honestly: if that was a mechanic or soccer mom at the wheel of that 4000 lb. weapon who had a few personal issues that needed deadening with alcohol, and those bikers were a couple of CHIPS types on patrol...where would that driver be right now, and more importantly, where would you be on the issue? That damn blue line isn't always so clearly drawn, but it's always there.

But the prime issue here as it is endemically everywhere is that this situation was enabled...fostered even, by deep and wide systemic failure, and worse, systemic flaw.


Tam said...

"Matt you keep beating around the edges of defending this murderer."

Like hell.

Where are you reading that?

Anonymous said...

Actually that comment was made before Matt's followup, as apparently was yours.

He's more appropriately outraged in that last bit, but a read of comments in this post and the first related to the incident will support my comment.


rickn8or said...

"When "today's" list includes wrecking a patrol car and, oops, by the way, killing a motorcyclist and costing the city a Whole Lot Of Money, "before" really doesn't matter so much."

As we used to say in my Navy days, "One AwShit wipes out fifteen Attaboys."

And just how useful was the officer going to be, at the assist scene, with a Double Legally Drunk BAC??

Tam said...


"He's more appropriately outraged..."

MattG is just the kind of person you want as a cop because he doesn't do "outraged". He is as calm and professional and dispassionate as you'd want someone to be when they've got a gun and a taser and a can of o/c and they have to interact with you.

I like it that when he does show a little pique, it's at a guy who makes his profession look bad.

Anonymous said...

Followup later...AT

Matt G said...

Al, I don't quite get where you're getting that I'm defending this guy at all, in the least.

Are you inferring that because I had earlier defended the IMPD choice on taking the case slower? Haw. Let me explain: often, taking the case slower gets the guy convicted with a more airtight case.

The main thing that was needed right away was the evidence. Bisard was taken to the hospital and had his blood drawn, immediately. He was probably treated for minor wounds (though I've not read that, it would be reasonable to assume). He was then probably investigated at length, either at the hospital or at the P.D.

During this time, reports are being filed at the P.D., and supervisors are being called, and an A.D.A. is being called to review the case as yet gathered, and is being consulted on whether to write a PC affidavit to take to a judge for a warrant, or to go to the Grand Jury to have them issue a warrant.

Having the Grand Jury issue the warrant increases the likelihood of getting a conviction, without having to deal with accusations of impropriety by his peers, for reasons of workplace competition, or whatnot. Unless they had an emergency grand jury session, though, I'm guessing that they just went to a judge and got a warrant, though, because he's already gone to jail to be booked for Reckless Homicide and DWI.

Having a warrant obtained BEFORE formally placing him under arrest also increases the liklihood of the charges sticking. Anytime an arrest is made on-view, there's a weak spot in the case. When the arresting officers are serving a warrant in good faith, the arrest is solid.

My point is, just because he didn't go to jail right away, doesn't mean that he's getting the easy treatment. Oh, he's getting some special treatment all right, but just not the kind he'll want.

Roberta X said...

...And without defending the guy, I will point out that, terrible though t was, this was not an especially unusual accident for that kind of situation.

Good on GIMPD for not burying the BAC test. I am quite sure they could have, and who are you gonna believe, some fairly generic biker-guys or the po-leece?

Elsewise: rushing to judgment is a luxury reserved for those far removed from the scene (and the possibility of a similar circumstance right where they live), and for mobs.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Tam said :" Apparently the Sun's over the yardarm early at the Bisard residence". At the end of the news story, there's a link to all the charges filed against Bisard. The official report said he called in the Drunken Driving, sorry, Motor Cycle Accident About 11:21 am. About 3 hours earlier he supposedly got an oil change, took his kids to soccer camp, came home to shower and change then hit the streets. Now, I don't claim to be a Forensic Patholigist (nor do I play one on the TeeWee), but IF this guy was Cold Sober at 8:30 am, then he had to be either Mainlining Everclear into his veins to get his BAC up that high, or more likely he was up all night pounding them down. That means he was drunk as a skunk when he took his kids to soccer camp, thus implying he could also be charged with Reckless Child Endangerment. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have Children's Services get the kids out of his house before he drives drunk with them again.

staghounds said...

But wait- what happened to the blue wall of silence? Why aren't the prospective Gestapo closing ranks?

Matt G said...

Having just ready the Probable Cause Affidavit for the seven charges that IMPD charged their own guy with, it seems that he managed to put one over on everyone at the scene, and the blood draw was simply the routine one done after a fatality accident. The accident was on 6 Aug 2010, the notification of the BAC was on 10 Aug 2010.

I wrote a little something about this at my place.

I note that, though the county was involved in the case, and though the DA could have taken over the case, it was IMPD who put together the PC affidavit, obtained the warrant, and are pursuing the case. This is certainly an aggressive pursuit of justice.

Montie said...


I happen to own a Medal of Valor myself. In that incident's immediate aftermath I was unsure whether I would get days on the ground or a congratulations for a job well done. Despite my trepidations, I never felt the need to "self-medicate" but that does not mean that an officer with a different attitude, or lesser support system might not. I cannot condemn Bisard on that front.

What I do condemn him for is not recognizing his problem, or if he did, hiding it and not seeking help from the department, thus endangering himself, his family, his fellow officers and the public, with the final result being one person dead and two suffering severe traumatic injuries. In addition,there is the consideration of what it is going to do to him and his family when this thing plays out in the manner it should.

I am only speculating, but I can't help but think that at least one or two of his co-workers had to have a least a suspicion of what was going on with him. One of the questions we ask in oral boards for new officers involves what they would do if they smelled alcohol on the breath of a fellow officer before they went out on patrol. Of course they all say they would turn him/her in to a supervisor and/or refuse to work with them, but that is hypothetical. The unfortunate reality is that most when faced with that scenario in real life will try to cover and protect the officer.

If Bisard was able to fool experienced investigators at the scene as to his BAC, I would tend to think that he has been drinking at that level or more, for many, many years. I have encountered hard core alcoholics who could pass a field sobriety test and only seemed mildly impaired, yet when blood or breath tested showed a BAC of three or four times the legal limit (so high we have to take them to the emergency room for possible alcohol poisoning).
It takes a lot of alcohol over a long time to adapt to being able to function and not look like an intoxicated idiot with a BAC of .19.

Anonymous said...

Matt, we don't have Grand Juries in Indiana but you have the process down.

stag, the Blue Wall comes into play during the sweet sentencing deal that he will receive. Remember, police always get the breaks that judges will not give my guys.

Shootin' Buddy

NotClauswitz said...

Did they rush to judgment when he killed "the AK Wielding robbery suspect" - when, "he heard the bullets whizzing by his head at the same time."
Maybe if he hadn't been drunk he could have used a bull-horn and a conversational tone instead of his patrol carbine. Or not. I wasn't there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Montie: that is a comment from the mind, heart, and soul of an experienced and perhaps somewhat disillusioned cop who knows exactly what I meant about that fuzzy blue line.

Thank you too, Matt, for your comments and clarification of your views; I've seen enough of your writings and those of people who know you and whose opinions I respect, that I would not and did not impugn your personal motives and integrity; only that I believe you do not fully recognize and/accept that the system that had this ticking time bomb not just on the street but making life and death decisions for everyone he meets is as responsible and guilty as he is for the slaughter of these innocents.

But while I follow that "proper procedure" was involved, *my* point is that a Mechanic Dad or Soccer Mom that plowed over a couple of motorcycle cops would have experienced a decidedly different "procedure" (if they survived the experience at all if you know what I mean). And what's the chance of them "putting one over" on the experienced officers at the scene? Right.

As to all the response (now) from the chief, the mayor, the union, his peers...and that "aggressive pursuit of justice"? Can you say CYA?

"...what happened to the blue wall of silence? Why aren't the prospective Gestapo closing ranks?"

Ignoring for a moment the smarmy tone of staghound's question, see CYA above.


LabRat said...

Of course he gets a different treatment as a serving officer: I took Matt's point to be that it's trickier to get the conviction just because his lawyer can always cry political motivation. You can throw Alky the Soccer Dad into the tank as soon as you fish him up because there's no way anyone could ever claim that he was picked up because it was personal, and there isn't going to be any union considering the matter either. That people within the system must be handled differently than those without is kind of a natural consequence of having the system at all.

And if he IS a long-time and experienced alcoholic, then as Montie pointed out above he could absolutely appear sober on scene to the other officers. It appears he already pulled this off earlier in the day with his family.

Matt G said...

No grand juries, SB? My, y'all do put a twist on criminal procedure, out in the sticks. :)

Al, you said, "As to all the response (now) from the chief, the mayor, the union, his peers...and that 'aggressive pursuit of justice'? Can you say CYA?"
Okay. Let's say it's CYA. It's answering to the demands for justice by the people. Whatever the motivation, it's right.

As for when they came out with this... The wreck was on Friday the 6th. The blood test results came back on the Tuesday the 10th. The felony warrant for his arrest was served on Wednesday the 11th, the same day that the Police Chief (and the FOP shill) spoke to the press.

That's not exactly sitting around, testing the wind.

It may come out that the IMPD screwed up a lot, but I'm certainly getting the impression that they're not trying to cut this guy an inch of slack.

Shootin' Buddy, don't some of those charges look awefully redundant to you? Stacking what are arguably Lesser Included Offenses seems to me an attempt to give the prosecutors something to give away in a Plea In Bar.

Sweetheart deals to cops by the state or no, I doubt that most of your clients would see as many counts for a single incident.

Anonymous said...

"Of course he gets a different treatment as a serving officer... people within the system must be handled differently than those without is kind of a natural consequence of having the system at all."

Cause, effect, and solution all right there in a nutshell (not that you're a nut, 'Rat).

As I said to begin with: "...this situation was enabled...fostered even, by deep and wide systemic failure, and worse, systemic flaw."


Anonymous said...

"No grand juries, SB? My, y'all do put a twist on criminal procedure, out in the sticks. :)"

All counties are that way, just not the sticks.

Indiana is in the minority for not requiring grand juries for misdemeanors or felonies.

The elected prosecutor can convene a grand jury if he or she so desires. It is a rarity and usually reserved for "political" incidents.

Some day the grand jury requirement will be incorporated as the Framers intended.

Shootin' Buddy

Ian Argent said...

It balances out - he may get a "sweet" sentencing deal (I wouldn't bet on it, though). But the time he does will be especially hard, and what's he going to do after getting out? Convicted felon means he can never do his job again.

Even if he's not convicted - he's in a world of hurt. Assume that he can keep his job despite proof of drunk on duty. Which of his superiors is going to take the chance of promoting the man convicted in public opinion of killing someone in a drunken accident? And even if the criminal track doesn't get him, he has to defend against the civil suits.

His life is ruined. In a just world he's going to jail for killing someone. But even in his personal best-case scenario, his life is still ruined.

Also, regardless of the process of admin, civil, criminal penalties, he should be made an example of why not to be That Guy. Don't Drink And Drive, kids, you can kill someone and ruin lives.

WV: redsmut - soviet porn?

Matt G said...

@ Shootin' Buddy:

I was joking, of course. By "sticks," I was referring to your whole state.

Frankly, given the way the system is constructed in Texas, there is almost zero chance that a grand jury will rule in a manner contrary to the way the prosecutor steers them. I've only seen it once in a case that I had anything to do with, in my career.

If the system is set up for the Grand Jury just to do what the DA wants, then why have it at all? Just go to preliminary hearings.

Sorry about the side trip down the Rant Rabbithole, but that one's bugged me for awhile.