Friday, August 20, 2010

Blood Alcohol. Very Bloody Alcohol

[Bumped to top, originally posted 7:30 last night]

Pop quiz, class:

Q. When is a blood-alcohol test not a blood-alcohol test?

A. When you don't follow the rules!

Indiana's law is very clear: if you want a BAC test that'll stand up in court, it's got to be done in a particular grade of medical establishment by an individual meeting a minimum level of verified competency with an airtight chain of custody, 'cos it is, after all, a very serious matter. It takes, in fact, more than even a facility that can cope with normal workplace oopsies and wee-in-a-cup tests; it takes, pretty much, an Actual Nurse (or better) in an Actual Hospital.

This is the sort of basic knowledge one might reasonably expect any police officer of more than 8 hours real-world LEO experience to know; after all, when the police pull you over on suspicion of DUI, if you really were driving drunk, it's their job to gather the evidence that will enable the courts to keep your drunk self off the road.

So -- and here's our second question, a two-parter -- Q: Where did the IMPD go to get a blood draw from Officer David Bisard, the IMPD officer who struck and killed one motorcyclist and critically injured two others, and who did the blood draw?

A: An occupational health center, and a non-nurse medical tech. Neither of them meeting the minimum qualification the law requires.

The prosecutor's had to drop those charges. He thinks he's still got a case but given Carl "frat boy" Brizzi's choice of friends and donors, the man's judgment does not fill me with confidence. Perhaps he's a better lawyer than he is a human being.

I certainly hope so. Gee, some days I do pine for olden times, when the Romans would toss guys like Officer Bisard to wild animals. That's not how we do things. American justice reaches far to give the accused benefit of the doubt -- but one might almost wonder if there was a thumb on the scales in this instance. IMPD's Chief Paul Ciesielski and Public Safety Director Frank Straub say they'll be asking the FBI to talk to everyone around this case who's got thumbs; maybe they even will.

21 comments:

pdb said...

I think we can upgrade this from "crock" to "travesty".

After sincerely apologizing for the admitted debacle in the Officer David Bisard alleged drunk driving fatal crash, Straub outlined some major changes.

They include the officer in charge at the Bisard crash scene.

"Lt. George Crooks is being removed from his position because the investigative process failed," said Straub.


Like hell. That guy needs to be charged with accessory at the very least.

Gewehr98 said...

Oh.

My.

Gawd.

Should charge his fellow officers with obstruction of justice, as transparent as they were by having Officer OWI's blood test done where it was...

Anonymous said...

Them and Us.
Different rules for them? No, just don't follow proceedure. Civil case? No, apply pressure on the family a ticket here, a ticket there. Enforce every code and statute to the maximum extent. Make life misserable enough that they have to move away. Maybe a token payment to keep everyone quiet.

Standard Mischief said...

The usual check-and-balance here would be to either recall or not reelect the sheriff (which should be the highest law enforcement agent in the city),except somehow I'll guess at some point the head of the police became an appointed position and any sheriffs department (if it exists at all) nowadays only handles evictions and summons.

At least that's the mischief they pull around here.

perlhaqr said...

Another hash mark on the wall.

If they won't let us have justice within the system, eventually we'll have justice outside the system. And I'm pretty sure they're going to like that even less than simply having to follow the same rules as the rest of us.

Roberta X said...

Standard Mischief: IPD and the Marion County Sheriff's Department were merged a few years back (almost becoming Greater Indianapolis Metropolitan Police until someone realized "GIMP" didn't look so good and they dropped the "Greater"). The Sheriff was kinda-sorta promised he'd be the big boss but they shunted him off to one side and now the appointed Public Safety Director and appointed Police Chief run the department. But think of the cost savings....

John Peddie (Toronto) said...

It always amazes me how political candidates and public officials can make public "apologies" for misdeeds, as if that excuses everything.

This nonsense works for nubile movie stars, but you'd think others would be held to a higher standard.

Sheesh!

Nathan said...

We should club up and get Frank Straub a ticket back to New York City.

Tam said...

This has got to be fixed from the top.

Who are we running against Ballard?

Roberta X said...

You!

"Tam for Mayoress!" Oh, totally.

Our Neighbor, The Democrat can run against you; I think she'd see reason on most Mayor-level things. Certainly we're in agreement about stuff like police and snow-plowing. So either way, it's a win.

(In other city-misgovernment news, the mystery jerks dumped an even bigger load of hacked-off tree parts in our alley. Sooooo tempted to stake out the alley from atop the garage, armed with a cell phone and the good camera in addition to the usual...).

Jay G said...

Knowing a little something about "chain of custody" (Mrs. G. works in the lab at the local hospital, and has been involved in CoC disputes in the past), I find it *extremely* hard to believe that the cops didn't know that what they were doing would invalidate the procedure.

The Chain of Custody - including which professionals can and cannot draw blood and run tests - is pretty freakin' rigid. Frex, the test has to be performed by an honest-to-goodness medical technologist, not a lab assistant, medical assistant, or anyone else in the laboratory who is not certified.

Here's a quick question: If it were you or I stopped by the cops after a fatal accident, would they bring us to an OccHealth center so our blood could be drawn by someone who falls outside the bailiwick of the test itself?

It should be pretty easy to pull up the last 10/20/50 OWI tests and see where suspects were brought. Something tells me that a shockingly low percentage (like 0) were brought to OccHealth.

This is BS, plain and simple. He murdered someone in drunken blood, and is being allowed to get away with it because of the badge. This is exactly the kind of thing that the wookie suiters like to point to as reasons to not trust the police, and it's hard to disagree with them when given such an egregious violation of the public trust.

And "Mayor Tam" is just too cool for school...

jbrock said...

Yeah, score another one for the Thin Blue Line.

Nathan said...

Naw. Bobbi for mayor.

Then maybe we'd get our steampunk street railways back :)

Sean said...

This is absolute crap, and a failure of the system.

I have had the unfortunate history of being involved in the DUI arrests of three other current/former officers in my time on the job. In EVERY occasion I can say my department supervision has gone out of the way to follow the book, cross the T's & dot the I's, and ensure not only proper witnessing by numerous people, but excellent documentation. Yes, it's a bad situation - but we do not want the impression of even the slightest impropriety to exist.

It is a shame that others can't hold themselves to the same standard.

Anonymous said...

"I find it *extremely* hard to believe that the cops didn't know that what they were doing would invalidate the procedure."

Jay, there are Brizzi memos/e-mails from years ago telling IPD and Sheriff that doc in the boxes are not certified. Cops knew that.

Cops took Bisard to a non-cert blood draw deliberately. It's not like they don't know how to torpedo a case for a fellow badge.

Sean, the "system" did not fail; those who know how to game the system gamed it to fail.

BTW, the judge did not "throw out" the OWI-death counts, Brizzi dismissed.

Shootin' Buddy

Borepatch said...

John Edwards was right - there really are Two Americas. One is inhabited by you and me. The other by government workers.

Today also sees stories about TSA workers who went through some lady's wallet and got all huffy about some checks she was carrying, as well as the Feds saying there's no case against the school administrators who activated spyware to take pictures of students in their bedrooms.

Two Americas.

Montie said...

Well... this is a disgusting turn of events. I cannot imagine that the officers investigating this incident would be willing to intentionally jam up the case like that, knowing what repercussions would be in store for them.

Most states have very rigid procedures regarding blood draws in fatality accident situations, but believe it or not I have seen the same types of screw-ups by officers investigating similar incidents that did not involve fellow officers. Somebody gets an idea on how to save time or frustration by taking some shortcut they believe will pass muster, only to find out too late that it won't hold up in court.

it's quite possible that the investigating officers tried to do Brisard a favor, but it's just as likely that they thought (mistakenly) that doing the blood draw at the place they had it done at, was a viable option.

The problem now is that it doesn't matter which scenario it was. It just looks bad for the whole department (corrupt or incompetent, pick one...either way IMP comes off badly).

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to hear what the OC health people have to say about what happened. I bet they knew they were not the proper facility but did it anyway, did not care, or were pressured?

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

How. Very. Convenient.

Matt G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt G said...

Comrade Misfit--
Not for the investigating officers, if I had any say in the matter.

I have no words for my rage at this debacle.

The only answer to this is evenly-spread, heavily-applied disciplinary actions. The officers who oversaw the blood draw need to be dismissed from their positions as crash investigators, if not from the force.

It is NOT just a civil blood draw, when there is a fatality crash. It is a homicide investigation.

The only way to prevent such things is to make future officers say, "Well, if I screw this up, I'll get canned like those other guys did. Best do it all by the numbers, by the book."