Video animation presented during Bisard trial recreates fatal crash
FORT WAYNE, Ind.– Allen Superior Judge John Subreck announced Tuesday he expects the case against David Bisard to go to a Fort Wayne jury on Nov. 4.
After nine days of testimony and evidence that portrayed the suspended Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Deartment K9 officer as an out of control drunk who recklessly slammed his patrol car into three motorcyclists and killed one three years ago, the defense got its chance to tell jurors Bisard was also a victim of the accident.
Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson rested the State’s case after several hours of technical testimony Monday and the introduction of a video animation that approximated the conditions of the crash.
Bisard was traveling at 76 mph westbound on East 56th Street on Aug. 6, 2010, voluntarily enroute to a search for a drug suspect when his car collided with a pair of motorcycles at a stoplight at Brendon Way South Drive.
The video animation depicted a similarly equipped IMPD squad car, on Aug. 6, 2012, driven at the same speed as cameras rolled.
Jurors observed how quickly Bisard’s car would have been upon the bikers and the animation portrayed the crash and the scattering of bodies and vehicles before morphing into actual accident scene photographs.
Engineer Jim Casassa told jurors that Bisard needed 240 feet to safely stop his car at that speed.
Photographs portray a 61 foot long skid mark at the scene as the defense claims the car anti-braking system failed.
With the introduction of the video, the prosecution essentially co-opted a prime defense argument that, “seeing is believing,” by providing the jury with a visual depiction of the tragedy.
During jury selection the defense often articulated that position to preview a prime tenant of its case that no one at the crash scene or the Methodist Occupational Health Clinic perceived any signs of intoxication in Bisard that day.
Before the jury was seated this morning, defense attorney, Andrew Duncan, read a list of dozens of Bisard friends, associates and co-workers who, he said, would testify that they had never known the defendant to drink to excess.
Bisard sat impassively as the list of people he knew, who would be willing to travel to Fort Wayne to testify on his behalf, was read.
Lead Defense Counsel John Kautzman also repeated his objections to the introduction of Bisard’s blood evidence that showed the officer was tested more than twice the legal limit of alcohol to drive in Indiana.
In the closing hours of the prosecution’s case, jurors heard from Robert McCurdy, supervisor of Marion County’s forensics lab, who vouched for the tests conducted on one of the vials.
Kautzman reiterated the problems with the collection, preservation and testing of the sample and referred to earlier court rulings that struck the evidence from the case.
Judge John Surbeck responded to Kautzman’s argument with a curt, “Next issue.”
During another motion Kautzman told the judge, “We think the evidence has portrayed a tragic automobile accident and nothing more at this time.”
Kautzman asked the judge’s forbearance for more time to present defense witnesses later in the week as he said he was surprised by the unanticipated conclusion of the State’s case.
The judge answered, “I’m having a little difficulty with this, Mr. Kautzman,” and then proceeded to admonish the defense that it hadn’t properly planned for an efficient trial schedule.
“I’ve got 13 jurors in here that we have pushed and are doing their duty and they should not be put at inconvenience that you didn’t plan your case,” said Judge Surbeck.
“The problem here, Mr. Kautzman, is you continue to make unilateral decisions that are not yours to make,” said the Court.
When Kautzman respectfully disagreed that it was not part of his strategy to delay the case, Judge Surbeck answered, “It certainly is your intent.”
An exasperated Judge Surbeck then ruled, “contrary to my direction,” he would grant Kautzman’s motion for a continuance, “because of his inability to bring witnesses,” to the court in a timely manner.
Thursday afternoon, with no defense witnesses available, will be given over to development of jury instructions with the panel of seven women and five men expected to receive the case Nov. 4.
When testimony began at 10:36 a.m., IMPD Chaplain Phillip Bacon told jurors that when he arrived at the crash scene and spoke with Bisard he did not notice any signs of intoxication.
“I was very surprised,” said the chaplain after he learned of Bisard’s .18 blood alcohol level test results several days after the accident.
The defense continued a parade of witnesses who repeated testimony the jury heard during the first week of the trial that Bisard did not appear drunk at the crash scene.
During a motions hearing this summer Judge Surbeck cautioned Kautzman to not overplay the number of witnesses who would all testify to essentially the same observations.
That testimony is the heart of Bisard’s “seeing is believing” defense.
Officer Michael Durst told the jury he heard Bisard call for help on the police radio after the crash and noticed, “stress,” in his voice.
Durst said that when he arrived at the accident site, he spotted Bisard kneeling on the pavement next to injured motorcyclist Kurt Weekly, saying,”Stay with me, man. Talk to me. You’re okay.”
Weekly spent nearly a month in a coma and suffered brain damage as a result of the crash.