Special prosecutor declines to file charges against officers involved in fatal shooting of Aaron Bailey

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers will not face charges in the killing of an unarmed man on the city's northwest side.

Aaron Bailey

On June 29, police said Aaron Bailey drove away from a traffic stop and crashed his car. Two IMPD officers opened fire, striking Bailey. An autopsy report provided by an attorney representing Bailey’s family showed he was hit four times in the back. Police said they did not find a weapon in his vehicle.

Kenneth P. Cotter of St. Joseph County was appointed on Aug. 22 to be the prosecutor on the case. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said he understands how this case relates to sensitive national issues and said they can't base their decisions on public opinion.

The family of the victim filed a lawsuit against the City of Indianapolis and the officers involved.

Tuesday afternoon, Prosecutor Cotter released his report of the investigation. He said he didn't have proof beyond reasonable doubt to prove the officers guilty of any crime.

“To refute a claim of self-defense, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, either that the officers’ fear of imminent serious bodily injury or death by Mr. Bailey was objectively unreasonable or insincere," Cotter said in a written report. “Based upon the results of the investigation as outlined above, there is insufficient evidence to refute either the officer’s claim of subjective fear or the objective reasonableness of that fear.  Therefore, applying Indiana self-defense statutes to the results of this investigation, I conclude that no criminal charges shall be filed."

Cotter met with Bailey's family prior to releasing the report and said the decision was not taken lightly.

The family's attorney, Craig Karpe, said the family is disappointed.

"The family is very disappointed. I'm very disappointed. We feel that there is grounds for bringing these charges and we continue on with our civil claim. This does not affect our case," said Karpe. "We have an active case in the federal court and we'll pursue litigation through the federal court proceedings and do discovery and bring our case together."

Karpe reiterated that the family isn't giving up.

"It's obviously very frustrating. The family was obviously hoping to get some kind of justice through the criminal procedure- that's apparently not gonna happen, so we continue on with the civil claim and we have not given up," he said. "They will continue to pursue justice on behalf of Aaron Bailey and this is not over yet​."

The officers had been placed on unpaid leave during the investigation. IMPD has not said what their status is now that Cotter has completed his report. IMPD will hold a press conference on the decision at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

W. Jay Abbott, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division, issued this statement:

“FBI Indianapolis’ civil rights investigation into the fatal June 2017 shooting of Aaron Bailey by officers of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department remains open. The FBI will review all available evidence and facts and will conduct additional investigative steps where appropriate.

We are coordinating with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana and the Department of Justice to determine whether a violation of federal civil rights has occurred.  As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett issued this statement:

“My thoughts and prayers go out to all those impacted by the death of Mr. Bailey, including his family and those who called him a friend. At the outset of this process, I made a commitment to the community that immediately upon conclusion of the criminal investigation, IMPD would launch a full administrative review into the actions that led to this police action shooting. I intend to follow through with that commitment.

Effective immediately, I have asked Chief Bryan Roach to gather all evidence from the Special Prosecutor’s investigation along with any other available materials to begin that process. I have also asked that the review be expedited so that an administrative decision can be rendered as quickly as is responsible.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to faith and community leaders for their patience and leadership over the last four months, and I urge those who have been moved to action by these events to continue to challenge our city to do more to earn and sustain trust between Indianapolis neighborhoods and our police department.”

IMPD Chief Bryan Roach sent this letter to IMPD employees and reserves after the announcement:

The Special Prosecutor in the criminal case of Aaron Bailey Officer-Involved Shooting, has made a determination not to file criminal charges in the case. In the coming days we intend to complete an administrative review of the incident. We intended to hold a media availability tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. in the Mayor’s Conference Room to discuss the administrative process that will now play out.

Please be cognizant that, some in our community will be angry, frustrated, hurt, and will harbor a host of other raw emotions. Please understand that these feelings are often directed at systems and not at you individually. In times like these, it becomes evident and abundantly paramount that we continue to serve with the same professionalism, empathy, and dignity that you serve and demonstrate to this community every day.

Your service to this community does not go unnoticed, and as your Chief, I’m often in environments that I have the privilege to hear story after story of your bravery, compassion, honor, and effort. Regardless the moment, continue to serve with the highest professionalism that makes us the moral fabric of this grateful community, and rest assured that as your Chief I am grateful for your unselfish service to this community and this department. Be safe.

Indianapolis City-County President Councillor Maggie A. Lewis issued this statement:

“Today, Special Prosecutor Cotter announced an end to the Aaron Bailey investigation.  While many in our community will be disappointed in this outcome, I ask that we keep the entire Bailey family in our prayers as they process this decision.  In the coming days, IMPD will begin its administrative process regarding this matter.  I believe and expect, that that process will be expeditious and fair.  Public safety and maintaining trust with those responsible for protecting our residents is paramount.  In the days ahead I know there will be many who will want to publicly express their disappointment in this decision. I ask that we do so in a spirit of calm and peace as we work with community leaders, law enforcement, and public safety officials to heal our community”

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