Board votes ‘no violation’ by 2 officers in Aaron Bailey shooting

10:33 p.m. UPDATE

A statement was issued by the Rev. David W. Greene and the Senior Rev. Wayne L. Moore:

“The Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis and the Baptist Minister’s Alliance are most disappointed to hear that the Police Merit Board has decided not to terminate Officers Michael Dinnsen and Carlton Howard for their involvement in the death of Aaron Bailey. Although not physically present, we have been watching this case with great interest. We felt that the evidence as presented is overwhelming and a just result should follow. Further, we observed Police Chief Brian Roach, who has a long track record within IMPD, evaluate and made the recommendation for termination. The Chief was hired because he was deemed the best qualified candidate for the job with over 30 years of experience. How is it that Chief Roach would not know what was an offense is that merits termination? We believe that the Chief’s decision to terminate is correct and is in the best interest of IMPD and the Indianapolis community. With the Merit Board’s decision that have setback community policing back in our city.

“The African-American community remains extremely concerned about the large number of cases involving Police Action shooting of unarmed African-American suspects. Many of us were praying for justice and watching with great interest this Merit Board trial of the Officers Michael Dinnsen and Carlton Howard, wherein the Chief requested termination. One of the officers testified that he was in fear of his life at the time of shooting. It has been shared that during the training at the Police Academy, officers are taught to articulate fear to justify shooting suspects. If the officers were in fear of their life merely because the suspect was an African-American, clearly additional actions must be taken to allow justice for the family of Aaron Bailey. It cannot be accepted that every officer can allege “fear” and that be allowed the reason that an unarmed African-American be killed and supported by the Police Merit Board.

“In addition, there is a great concern about the composition of the current Police Merit Board. This Merit Board continues to support police officers to a fault. They want to call these decisions a teachable moment for the community when it is police chiefs that bring these recommendations for termination and not the community.

“Are they saying that our police chiefs who come forth with recommendations for termination are incompetent and do not know what offenses merit termination? The Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis and the Baptist Minister’s Alliance believe that the Merit Board should not allow any person to serve on the board who have represented police officers in any capacity in their occupation.

“The Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis and Baptist Minister’s Alliance hate to see the family of Aaron Bailey being another victim in Indianapolis of this senseless tragedy. Clearly changes need to be made concerning the Merit Board. For example, there must be an investigation of the board to determine if any current or prior conflicts of interest exists. Justice requires accountability!”

7:58 p.m. UPDATE

Religious leaders across Indianapolis reacted to a merit board’s “no violation” vote regarding two IMPD officers with a news release calling the decision a “license to kill.”

Here are quotes from religious leaders in the Faith in Indiana group’s release, which was headlined “Faith Community Outraged by the Merit Board’s ‘License to Kill’ Decision, Calls for New Deal with Police Union”:

John E. Girton Jr,  Faith in Indiana pastor at Christ Missionary Baptist Church:

“We are outraged that the Merit Board chose to add Aaron Bailey to the long list of our loved ones murdered at the hands of law enforcement with absolutely no recourse. From Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, and now Aaron Bailey, this decision stole from us the belief that the United States is a place where Black and Brown people can live in freedom and safety.”

Sharon Trotter, a minister who is a Faith in Indiana leader at Promise Land Christian Community Church:

“This horror show that robs children of their fathers and mothers will not end until police officers who act recklessly are held accountable. It’s time for a new deal with the Fraternal Order of Police, so individuals who fail to uphold the charge to protect and serve can be held personally responsible for loss of life in criminal and civil court.”

The Rev. William Almodovar, Faith in Indiana pastor at Casa del Alfarero:

“This verdict is much larger than officers Dinnsen and Howard. It tells us that we still live in a time when simply invoking tired tales of ‘Black Men as threats to be feared’ will absolve police officers from their duty to serve and protect. As people of faith, we reject the demonic belief that fear and violence toward Black people is justified and demand a new deal with the police union focused on accountability and transparency.”

Jetra’ Daniels. Faith in Indiana leader at New Direction Church:

“While we grieve for the miscarriage of justice the Bailey family has endured. This Grief is not theirs alone. As a mother of a young Black man, I like millions of Black mothers, live in daily fear of getting a call that he was killed at the hands of the police. We will not sit on the sidelines, while our communities are terrorized by the state. Faith in Indiana is committed to make sure Indianapolis keeps down the road to reform and puts in place measures to hold law enforcement accountable and restore safety to Black and Brown communities.”

7:40 p.m. UPDATE

Mayor Joe Hogsett issued this statement:

“Today’s decision by the Civilian Police Merit Board to overturn the recommended termination of two officers is a disappointing and frustrating reminder that even as we continue our efforts to reform our criminal justice system, much work remains to be done.

“I have complete faith in the judgment and the leadership of IMPD Chief Bryan Roach, whose experience over three decades in the police department has more than prepared him to make difficult decisions as it relates to the discipline and termination of officers.

“The fact that Chief Roach’s experienced, well-reasoned decision to terminate two officers has been overturned by the votes of five individuals highlights a Merit Board system that must be changed if we are to continue building bridges of trust between our brave police officers and the communities they proudly serve.

“In the coming days, I will be engaging with community and public safety leaders to assess what should be considered to help restore faith in the police discipline process

“For our community as a whole, I simply ask that even as today’s decision creates understandable sadness and frustration, it is only through unity, not division, that we can continue to move our city forward. Let us use this moment as an opportunity to come together and resolve that we will honor those affected by this tragedy through a commitment to peaceful change.”

6:40 pm UPDATE

A seven-member civilian police merit board voted 5-2 on multiple counts that two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers had “no violation” in the shooting death of Aaron Bailey.

6:16 pm UPDATE

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A final decision was imminent in the civilian police merit board hearing on whether the officers who shot and Killed Aaron Bailey should be fired.

The board plans to discuss the case privately before voting publicly at some point Thursday night. If the board decides the officers should be fired, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers Michael Dinnsen and Carlton Howard could have a chance to present their case to an appeals court.

Bailey, who was unarmed, was shot and killed after he drove away from police during a west side traffic stop June 29.

COVERAGEDay 2 testimony: Officer who shot, killed unarmed man testifies at merit board hearing | Day 1 testimony: Merit board considers firing officers who shot, killed unarmed man | 2 IMPD officers to learn if they can keep their badges

The third day of the hearing ended about 5 p.m. with the completion of closing arguments.

Both IMPD officers who fired at Bailey took the witness stand Thursday. Officer Michael Dinnsen fought back tears after a merit board member asked what he has gleaned from his experiences.

“Never something I wanted to do or be a part of. I didn’t become a police officer to do this. I had to rely on my friends and family. I’ve become stronger in my faith in God and my marriage with my wife.”

Dinnsen said that he feels “extremely terrible about what happened.”

Officer Carlton Howard, when asked the same question, described the experience as “awful.”

“Hindsight being 20/20, I don’t think I could have waited another second, sir,” Howard said. “I thought I was going to be shot that night.”

Howard said he pulled Bailey over for the traffic stop. He said Bailey refused to get out of the car, drove off and eventually crashed into a tree.

Dinnsen said Thursday he saw Bailey open the center console and start digging. He at one point choked up, and his lawyers asked for a break. When he returned, he demonstrated how far and how quickly. According to Dinnsen, Bailey turned toward Howard before Dinnsen fired. Howard also fired.

“I believed he had a gun and I thought he was going to shoot officer Howard,” Dinnsen said. “So, I shot in the back of the car.”

IMPD Chief Brian Roach has said the officers did not follow their training, and that they should have have fired and should be fired.

IMPD’s legal counsel, Melissa Coxey, questioned Howard on where he was when he shot at Bailey.

“You’re from a standing position and he’s in a seated position, right?” Coxey said.

“Yes,” Howard said.

“If (Bailey) is turning toward you rapidly, how does (the bullet) enter the back and how is the trajectory upward?”

“Ma’am, I do not have any expertise in ballistics. I cannot explain that,” Howard said.

Howard’s lawyers argued that Bailey leaned forward, causing the bullet to strike his back at an upward trajectory on his body. Howard also said Bailey did not turn all the way toward him.

His lawyers said Bailey’s seat was reclined, giving Howard enough of a view to see Bailey’s movements near the center console.

Both sides presented testimony from IMPD officers — including training officers — in efforts to show the board what the officers did right or wrong.

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A civilian police merit board hearing Thursday afternoon was deliberating the fate of two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers.

The board was reviewing the officers’ actions in the June 29 shooting and killing of Aaron Bailey. Both officers as well as IMPD leaders, including Roach, have testified since Tuesday. The board will decide whether the officers will lose their jobs.

The third day of the hearing ended about 5 p.m. with the completion of closing arguments. Melissa Coxey gave closing arguments for IMPD Chief Bryan Roach. Edward Merchant and John Kautzman did closing arguments for the officers.

Bailey was an unarmed man shot and killed after he drove away from police during a west side traffic stop.

Roach recommended termination for officers Michael Dinnsen and Carlton Howard last fall, but they can’t be fired without a decision from the merit board.

In the third day of testimony Thursday, Howard described the experience of the shooting and months after as “awful,” something he’d never want to go through “whether the person is armed or unarmed.”

“Hindsight being 20-20. I don’t think I could have waited another second, sir,” Howard said to a board member. “I thought I was going to be shot that night.”

Dinnsen, asked to demonstrate how he yelled at Bailey during the traffic stop, shouted “get your hands up!”

Dinnsen then appeared choked up and his lawyers requested a short break.

Dinnsen later broke down crying on the witness stand. “I believed he (Bailey) had retrieved a gun and I thought he was going to shoot officer Howard. So, I shot into the back of the car.”

Dinnsen said he has leaned on his family and faith over the past year. “It’s a traumatic incident not only for myself but for everybody involved. It’s tested me.” Says he feels terrible about what happened.

May 10, 2018 | WISH TV Channel 8 | Link to Story

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