INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - IMPD Chief Bryan Roach said his department is already conducting an extensive internal review into its training, policies and procedures in the wake of the June 29 fatal shooting of a Aaron Bailey.
A special prosecutor has determined that Officers Carlton Howard and Michael Dinnsen were within the law as they opened fire on Bailey after he crashed his car fleeing a traffic stop that he may have feared would have sent him to jail.
St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter’s investigation revealed that Bailey likely knew he was in violation of a pre-trial home detention order and was driving on a suspended license when he sped away from Howard on the northwest side and slammed into a tree at W. 23 Aqueduct St.
Cotter confirmed Bailey refused Howard’s commands to show his hands and, while he continued rummaging in his wrecked Cadillac, the officers were in fear for their safety and fired eleven shots, fatally wounding Bailey in the back four times.
Roach also revealed that while IMPD human resources records identify both officers as white males, “Officer Howard, I will tell you, is biracial. I think his father is African American.”
Critics of the shooting have decried what they perceive to be the murder of a black man at the hands of police officers.
“Clearly he shouldn’t have taken off running from the police and so when he did that that contributed to what happened,” said Rev. David Greene Sr. of the Concerned Clergy. “We have to assess why did these officers shoot? And if they were scared, well, are they in the right job? We gotta ask some difficult questions along the way and, if it’s a lack of training, what’s that issue and why did it take so long to get here?
“I think that the officers, because of their lack of experience, it contributed to their fear.”
Bailey’s family claimed that Bailey was likely stunned by the deployment of the car’s airbag after the crash and that the young officers, who had only served about two years patrolling solo the streets of Indianapolis, were inexperienced.
“If we have an officer that’s fearful and we have someone that’s been pulled over that’s fearful, that’s a bad combination,” said Roach who will oversee an internal investigation into what led up to that fatal encounter four months ago and what happened in the early hours of that Thursday morning.
An IMPD Firearms Review Board will have access to evidence on which Cotter made his decision, plus any other information turned up by homicide and internal affairs detectives.
“At eight a.m. on Friday that Firearms Review Board will meet collectively and address any additional questions that they may have, discuss amongst themselves any materials that they have reviewed and then I have asked all the investigators involved in this process and the two officers to be prepared Friday to be brought into that Firearms Review Board and answer any questions that they might have.”
Roach expects to review the board’s findings and make a decision on what, if any, changes need to be brought to IMPD’s training or patrol divisions.
Howard and Dinnsen have been assigned non-policing roles since the incident and will undergo mandatory psychological counseling if the chief decides to return them to the streets.
Critics have called for the officers to be fired.
“I want the Bailey family to know that I understand the frustration and anguish and pain that comes from losing a loved one in the tragic events that occurred back in June,” Roach told reporters at a briefing that had been momentarily scheduled to be held in Mayor Joe Hogsett’s conference room on the 25th floor of the City County Building before it was moved back down to the chief’s office. “I’m grateful for the peaceful and well organized demonstrations that have occurred over the last few months and the cooperation we’ve had with those who want to express their concern about the way things are handled by their police department.”
Hogsett’s office told CBS4 that the mayor would not speak publicly about the special prosecutor’s Bailey decision until after IMPD’s internal review is complete.
IMPD, meanwhile, remains in touch with leaders of demonstrations and continues to monitor social media for any indications of protests that could become less than peaceful.