Merit Board reviews whether two IMPD officers should be fired for deadly shooting

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Testimony began for a Merit Board that will decide whether two IMPD officers should be fired following a deadly police shooting.

The officers fighting to save their jobs shot and killed Aaron Bailey last year. The Indianapolis man was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Last year, the police chief recommended the two officers who pulled the trigger should be fired because they did not follow their training. The job of the civilian Merit Board will decide whether or not to uphold that decision.

Speeding away from a routine traffic stop in June 2017, Aaron Bailey crashed into a tree after which two IMPD officers police shot and killed the unarmed man.

“I find it unreasonable that 11 rounds were fired into the back of the car with no visible sign of his hands,” said IMPD deputy chief Chris Bailey.

Testifying before the Merit Board, the department's deputy chief said the officers were not justified in the shooting. The two officers at the center of the case, Carlton Howard and Michal Dinnsen, say they ordered Aaron Bailey to get out of the car and opened fire when they thought he was reaching for a gun. Bailey, as it turned out, did not have a weapon.

“I believe these officers were hurried. They panicked. Whatever reason they had a fear which was unreasonable based on the information they had at the time,” said Chris Bailey.

Another witness from the department's professional standards division also testified the officers failed to follow their training.

“I believe there was a violation of training because I don’t believe the officers followed policy for the use of deadly force,” said Major Susan Hill.

A special prosecutor did not file criminal charges in the case, but the chief suspended the officers and recommended they be fired after a firearms review board previously ruled deadly force should not have been used. Attorneys for the officers criticized that ruling, leading to a few heated exchanges.

“You’re thinking that the chief’s decision was made solely on the firearms review board, which isn’t the case. You’re hanging your hat on something false,” said Chris Bailey.

Testimony and argument before the Merit board is set to last for the next couple of days. At the end of the hearing, the board will make their decision by a simple majority.

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