INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in June have been suspended and face termination.
A special prosecutor assigned to the case determined criminal charges against officers Carlton Howard and Michael Dinnsen were not warranted. IMPD conducted an administrative review separate from the prosecutor and determined the officers’ actions didn’t comply with IMPD’s policies.
Aaron Bailey crashed a car after leading police on a brief chase on June 29; officers shot him when he got out of his car and said they thought he’d reached into the vehicle’s center console to retrieve a weapon. There were no weapons found on him or in his car.
The IMPD Firearms Review Board reviewed the materials in the case and the officers appeared in front of the board for questioning. After the hearing, the board voted unanimously that the officers didn’t comply with their training.
After reviewing the facts presented by the board, IMPD Chief Bryan Roach found there was not sufficient reason to believe deadly force was necessary to affect the arrest of Bailey. He does not believe Bailey posed a threat of serious bodily injury to the officer or anyone else.
Roach said Howard and Dinnsen did not apply their training for high-risk traffic stops properly. If they had, Roach says they would have allowed themselves time, distance, cover and a safer encounter overall.
One of IMPD’s values states, “The protection and perseveration of life is our fundamental objective. We will only use deadly force when necessary to protect the life of a citizen or officer and when other options are not reasonably available. There were other reasonable options available to the officers in this incident.”
Roach said the officers’ use of deadly force “rises to a level so far removed from accepted professional practice and community expectation that it severely damages public trust of its police department.”
The officers have been suspended. Roach recommended their termination to the Civilian Police Merit Board.
The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police issued the following statement:
“This is a tragedy for all involved. We understand and appreciate the public’s concern whenever officers are faced with the difficult, split second decision to defend themselves and others against a potentially armed suspect.
We are seeking further documentation to better understand the basis for the Chief’s decision as it relates to departmental policies, departmental training, and especially in light of the published decision of the Special Prosecutor.
In the interim, the police department has procedures in place that make sure there is a fair and impartial review of all allegations. We take the decision of the Chief of Police seriously and we are diligently working to obtain all of the information surrounding this matter as soon as possible. It remains our objective to ensure a thorough review and a fair process for everyone.”
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett issued this statement:
Indianapolis is blessed to have a police department made up of men and women that wake up each morning dedicated to protecting and serving this city. The work they do is difficult and at times dangerous, yet they remain steadfast in their commitment to building and strengthening bridges between our law enforcement and the community. We owe it to these brave officers to ensure that those who represent the police department, and our city, are upholding the high standards that make the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department one of the best in the country.
Throughout our history, Indianapolis has always been at its best when our residents are united by those compassionate principles that call us together as one city. And for two years, I have dedicated myself and this administration to the pursuit and furtherance of those things that unite us, rather than divide us. It is because of that work, and the resiliency I observe across our city every day, that I remain more confident than ever in the community and public safety leaders who continue to work to grow and deepen bonds of trust between our neighborhoods and police department.
Community activist group DONT SLEEP, who previously protested the special prosecutor’s decision, issued this statement: