Merit Board members defend, explain votes not to fire IMPD officers involved in fatal shooting

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- By a vote of 5-2, a Merit Board ruled Thursday that two embattled IMPD officers can keep their jobs following a deadly shooting.

That ruling has come under fire from the NAACP, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and more. The mayor called the merit board’s vote disappointing and frustrating.

Some of those board members countered that after listening to three days of testimony they had good reason not to fire the officers in question.

Following a high-speed chase and crash last June, two IMPD officers shot and killed 45-year-old Aaron Bailey, who was unarmed at the time.

“As far as the death of Mr. Bailey is concerned, we are all grieving. All life is sacred,” said board member KP Singh.

Still, Singh and four other members of the seven-member Merit Board voted that Carlton Howard and Michal Dinnsen were justified in the shooting and won’t lose their jobs.

“There was no question they followed their orders to the best of their ability,” said Singh.

“This board has always been more than fair,” said board member Darryl Pierce.

Pierce also voted to clear the officers of wrongdoing. A day later, Pierce had strong words for the mayor’s criticism of the ruling, saying the attorneys who represented the police chief utterly failed their jobs.

“I resent Mayor Hogsett questioning the ruling of the Merit Board when his chief and the counsel for the chief presented an inept case. I don’t care what anybody says, they were inept,” said Pierce.

“The city could have done a much better job in terms of presenting their case,” agreed Singh.

Pierce and Singh also admit the emotional testimony of both officer Dinnsen and Howard played a role in their decision.

“Those tears that they felt and what they had to say about the aftermath, I think that was a heavy weight on a lot of people,” said Pierce.

“We felt it was all coming from the heart. It’s not something they were coached,” said Singh.

The two dissenting votes on the board came from pastor Ronald Covington and Joe Slash who called the ruling a chance to educate police and public alike.

“I just don’t think the community understands the due process of what is allowed under rules when it comes to the use of force,” said Slash.

While some board members said they are okay with changes to the board, as long as it’s not influenced by politics, the FOP called the mayor’s criticism disturbing.

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