Prosecutor: No criminal charges warranted against IMPD officer after crash that killed pedestrian

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Crash scene on Sept. 24, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 19, 2015) — Prosecutors say no criminal charges will be filed against an Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer involved in a fatal crash last month.

On Sept. 24, IMPD officer Bernardo Zavalza, who was off-duty, was behind the wheel of an IMPD vehicle when a pedestrian was killed on East Southport Road near I-65. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said his office concluded charges against Zavalza weren’t warranted. Zavalza had alcohol in his system, but tests showed his blood alcohol content was .029, below Indiana’s legal limit of .08. A separate toxicology screening found no evidence of other intoxicants, Curry said.

A reconstruction of the crash found Zavalza’s car was going 46 mph in a 40 mph zone. The man killed in the crash, Ronny Bowling, was the subject of a 911 call around 11:50 p.m. in which the caller said a man was walking in the street. That call was made moments before the crash.

While the prosecutor’s office said the crash didn’t rise to the level of criminal charges, IMPD Chief Rick Hite will recommend Zavalza’s firing to the Police Civilian Merit Board, saying Zalvalza violated IMPD policy. Zavalza was placed on administrative leave after the crash and his police powers were suspended.

“After reviewing the administrative findings from both the Internal Affairs and Special Investigation Units, I find it appropriate, warranted and within IMPD policy to recommend to the Police Merit Board that Zavalza be terminated,” Hite said.

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