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Indianapolis officer’s trial underway despite bumpy start

Bisard

– The first real day of the David Bisard trial started a bit rough Wednesday with a juror switch and malfunctioning technology.

But by noon, both sides had offered their opening statements to the jury in Allen County Superior Court, and the first witness, a fellow Indianapolis Metro Police officer, was called to the stand.

Though Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson was interrupted by a glitch in the recording equipment, her lengthy opening remarks outlined the case against Bisard.

Bisard, a suspended Indianapolis Metro Police K-9 officer, faces charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death; operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or more; reckless homicide; two counts of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing bodily injury with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more; two counts of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing bodily injury; and two counts of criminal recklessness.

Bisard, 39, is accused of driving his squad car into the back of a pair of motorcycles stopped at a traffic light in August 2010. One of the bikers, 30-year-old Eric Wells, was killed, and two were injured.

It took two days to pick the jury for the trial, scheduled to last a month. The case was moved from Indianapolis to Allen County because of extensive media coverage in Indianapolis.

Robinson said that while Bisard – who was on duty and driving his squad car, a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria – did not appear intoxicated, he most surely was. She said the jury would hear about the tests done on vials of blood taken from Bisard after the crash that showed a blood-alcohol level concentration of 0.19 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

And the evidence would show that Bisard had no business driving that fast – about 70 mph just before the crash – having been told his assistance wasn’t needed at the serving of a felony warrant, Robinson said.

Lead defense attorney John Kautzman said the evidence would not show that Bisard was intoxicated, and that he had in fact been responding to the warrant service to assist with his police dog.

“You are here to decide if the defendant committed a crime, if this cop is a criminal,” Kautzman told the jury.

Calling the prosecution’s blood evidence “highly questionable,” Kautzman said no one who interacted with the officer that day saw evidence of intoxication.

Bisard’s anti-lock brake system failed that morning after it had just been repaired, affecting his ability to steer the vehicle, Kautzman said.

“You will not hear evidence that a crime was committed,” Kautzman said.

The morning started with the dismissal of Juror No. 35, who said he had been unable to silence someone talking about the case at a meeting Monday night.

The juror told Surbeck that the man who spoke to him was an Indianapolis resident and, when he figured out the juror was on the Bisard case, would not stop talking about it. The juror said the man talked about details of Bisard’s second arrest and family situation, which members of the jury were not supposed to have heard.

While he was out on bond, Bisard was arrested again this spring after police said he crashed a borrowed pickup truck into a guardrail in the Fishers area.

Bisard’s blood-alcohol concentration at the time of that crash was 0.22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

After a brief discussion with the attorneys, Surbeck dismissed the juror, assuring him that the dismissal wasn’t his fault. Surbeck then cautioned the rest of the jury to avoid talking about the case. The juror was replaced by an alternate female juror.

rgreen@jg.net

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