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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The larger community learns what Blacks have long known — police have big problems

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From the day Cain asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” the cover-up has always been far worse than the crime.

Last week’s revelation of dereliction of duty and possible obstruction of justice by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in the drunken driving case of Officer David Bisard left Indianapolis stunned.

But to our African-American community, the Bisard fiasco demonstrated what we’ve known for years – something is rotten in IMPD. Now the entire city and region smell the putrid odor and are appalled.

This should’ve been a simple case. A tragic accident by a public employee. Even if Bisard was sober, a breathalyzer should’ve been done on the spot to reduce questions and inference of preferential treatment.

Any cop who handles accidents resulting in death or injury is supposed to know that the “chemical (blood) test” must be conducted in a qualified medical facility, like a hospital – not where you go for workman’s comp claims.

An African-American judge, Grant Hawkins, himself no stranger to paying a penalty for a mistake, ruled that procedures hadn’t been followed and ordered Bisard’s drivers license reinstated. That ruling and a subsequent investigation by Prosecutor Carl Brizzi’s office caused Brizzi to exclude charges depending on a blood test that wasn’t done according to procedures.

That announcement produced a firestorm of anger. Hundreds of the victims’ biker friends, along with Black ministers, activists and others jammed the Circle Friday night in a second week of protests.

Mayor Ballard, finally showing leadership of the department he coveted from day one, forced the demotion of three top IMPD officers who were on the scene of Bisard’s accident and seemingly did nothing to make sure rules and regs were followed.

Though it’s troubling that the highest ranking African-American in IMPD, Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce, was among those busted back to lieutenant. The paucity of Blacks holding command rank (lieutenant or higher) makes it slim pickings for an African-American to replace Pierce or the others busted.

Many Blacks and others in this city are wondering whether the Bisard case is a cover-up. In our community, if an independent poll were taken, cover-up would win in a landslide.

The fatal errors in the case now force us to question whether IMPD has properly handled other recent high profile cases. Obviously, there are still major concerns about their investigation into the Brandon Johnson beating case.

But several others now must be questioned.

Remember Public Safety Director Frank Straub’s declaration in the Expo shooting case telling me and other media that “We have the shooter on tape.” Yet, no one has seen it. In fact, none of the tapes from the downtown surveillance cameras that Expo Saturday night have been released. Why?

Then there’s the second Expo Saturday shooting that occurred around 11:30 p.m. – a shooting that wounded one. IPMD has been incommunicado about it, refusing to ask the public’s help for information leading to an arrest. Why no emphasis on this dastardly downtown crime?

Then there’s the case of Warren Collins Jr., shot and killed March 16 by an IMPD officer after a chase and struggle. All police action shootings are supposed to go to the grand jury, but there’s been silence in this case. No report from police or the prosecutor’s office.

Some activists have asked for an investigation into the Collins case. Others have resisted because Collins wasn’t a Boy Scout, but rather one convicted of several criminal offenses who had killed someone during a car chase in 2004.

But now, in the wake of IMPD’s destroyed credibility, the Warren Collins case must be opened for independent review.

Last Friday on “Afternoons with Amos,” Shantay Chandler, Brandon Johnson’s mother, expressed sympathy and solidarity with Eric Wells’ family, the man killed in the Bisard accident.

Since our community had been told that the FBI was supposedly investigating the Brandon Johnson case, I asked if she had been contacted by them. Chandler replied that she hadn’t.

Congressman André Carson, D-Ind., the Black Legislative Caucus and our lame duck Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., should all demand a status report from the Justice Department in Washington on the Brandon Johnson investigation. And at the same time they must demand that top Justice Department officials come to Indianapolis to talk with the community about the apparent breakdown in command and control of the police department of America’s 12th largest city.

Finally, a word to the vast majority of men and women in IMPD. To the good officers who do their jobs and want to be the best, it’s time you all stand up and demand from the mayor, your command structure and yes your union, that it is time for politics, cronyism, and the good-ole-boy system in IMPD to end. It’s time to end the culture that protects police when they do wrong and punishes civilians when they do nothing wrong.

I believe you want a competent, professional, ethical IMPD. If you stand up and demand that, we will stand up with you.

What I’m hearing

in the streets

I hear the brass at WRTV (Channel 6) wasn’t pleased over my comments about their mishandling of the story of the “staged” incident involving an IMPD officer at Municipal Gardens that was mislabeled as a church event. And they weren’t happy about my comments regarding the departure of African-American anchor Todd Wallace.

Plus, Channel 6 was chagrined that I hadn’t mentioned that veteran African-American anchor/reporter Ericka Flye anchors their weekday 5 p.m. news.

Flye, an Anderson native and Ball State graduate, has been with Channel 6 for more than 10 years, mostly anchoring Channel 6’s weekend 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.

Now she’s in prime time, paired with the white Todd (Wallace’s ubiquitous replacement) in a half hour newscast that’s rumored to move to an hour this fall.

This makes Flye the top understudy to lead female anchor Trisha Shepherd.

It’s a well deserved opportunity for a quality journalist.

Oh, and Channel 6, please update your web site. As of my deadline, it still said Ericka Flye was your weekend, not your weekday anchor!

See ‘ya next week!

You can e-mail comments to Amos Brown at acbrown@aol.com.

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