Family of Aaron Bailey questions how City of Indianapolis handled case against IMPD officers
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The family of Aaron Bailey, who was fatally shot by two IMPD officers in June 2017, say they have many questions about the handling of the case against the officers and blame the City for not presenting a better case.
The IMPD Civilian Merit Board decided in a 5-2 vote that officers Carlton Howard and Michal Dinnsen would keep their jobs.
On June 29, 2017, Bailey crashed his car after leading police on a short chase. The officers shot him after a traffic stop and said they thought he’d reached into the vehicle to get a weapon. Bailey was unarmed and no weapons were found on him or in the car.
According to the family in a release provided by their attorney Craig Karpe, the officers were wrong when they testified Bailey had a prior record of armed robbery.
“Mr. Bailey has never been arrested for armed robbery or any other offense involving a firearm. The city attorneys allowed the officers and their lawyer to make this false allegation many times without challenge,” the family said.
They provided the following video clip of Officer Howard describing how he believed Bailey had a gun due to an alleged Dec. 2015 armed robbery case.
The family also said the officers’ attorney listed “armed robberies” as one of the danger clues they experienced.
“No armed robbery charges exist, yet this scurrilous false allegation was stated over and over during the Police Merit Board Hearing. At no point in the hearing did city attorneys offer any objection,” the family said.
CBS4 did not find any armed robbery charges on Bailey’s record.
The family also says the City failed to submit evidence about shot trajectory and body position. They point out that Dinnsen and Howard testified Bailey was turning toward Howard at the driver’s side of the vehicle in a threatening manner when he was shot.
“The officers further presented Detective Brent Hendricks, who was allowed to offer his opinion that Mr. Bailey was turned toward the driver door when he was shot. Detective Hendricks based his testimony on the trajectory of two of the four bullets through Mr. Bailey body,” the family said.
The Bailey family says Hendricks did not support his opinion with any foundation of personal expertise in anatomy, forensics, ballistics or bio-mechanics.
The family provided a photo which they claim the City has in its possession. They say the photo indicates the position of Bailey in the car when he was shot and was taken by Detective Hendricks during his investigation.
They had this to say about the photo:
“This photograph was never offered to the Police Merit Board by the City of Indianapolis. The trajectory rod demonstrates how a bullet passed through the center console lid and struck Mr. Bailey in his right shoulder. It shows that Aaron Bailey was not turned toward the driver’s door, but instead was facing forward when he was shot. The City declined to present this evidence or testimony from the Marion County Coroner regarding bullet trajectories through the body to dispute Detective Hendricks unqualified opinion.”
In addition to these concerns, the family also says Nabeela Virjee, an attorney for the City, was inexperienced and had never handled a merit board case before. They say the attorney representing the officers had 33 years of experience and specialized in representing the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
“One could reasonably expect Ms. Virjee would not do well in the circumstances,” the family said.
They provided a clip from the courtroom where the supervising City attorney hands Virjee a paper.
“Although we do not see the exact words, it is obvious Ms. Virjee has been told to stop her questioning. Taken aback, Ms. Virjee struggles to maintain her composure. She quickly wraps up her cross-examination and returns to her seat shaking her head,” the family said.
The release also states Virjee wasn’t allowed to question a witness at the hearing, and described the conclusion of the City’s efforts as “unenthusiastic.”
The Bailey family says they do not fault the merit board “for the failure of the city to present its most persuasive evidence and arguments” and claims the board made a reasonable decision based on what they had to consider.
“Instead, the Bailey Family faults a process in which the City of Indianapolis is expected to zealously prosecute its own officers while at the same time indemnifying those officers against the claims of third parties In future, the Bailey Family hopes independent counsel will be used in the prosecution of Police Merit Board hearings to avoid inevitable conflicts of interest,” the release from the family’s attorney says.
The family says they love Indianapolis and understand the risks and sacrifices by police officers. They say justice is not possible “if the truth remains hidden and if justice is denied.”
CBS4 has reached out to IMPD and the FOP for a response.