Bisard sentencing hearing underway in Fort Wayne

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ALLEN COUNTY – An ex-Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer who was convicted of a 2010 fatal drunk driving crash showed “genuine remorse” and even “broke down” while discussing the impact of the tragedy on his victims and family according to a forensic psychologist who testified this afternoon in Allen Superior Court.

Dr. Stephen Ross testified during the sentencing hearing for David Bisard.

He said Bisard suffered a stroke in 2011, was forced to move out of his home due to excessive drinking and will need extensive treatment for his alcohol issues…and still denies he was drinking the day of the fatal crash.

“Alcoholics lie to themselves,” said Ross.

Bisard, one day resigned from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, looked glum as he was led in handcuffs and shackles in the company of a sheriff’s deputy as he entered the Allen County Courthouse through a basement tunnel on his way to sentencing.

Bisard was looking at a potential 30 years in jail.

Outside Surbeck’s third-floor courtroom, Lora Bisard looked nervous while talking with friends and family.

Inside, in the back two rows of the gallery, there was a reunion of the 12 jurors who found Bisard guilty earlier this month for the on-duty drunk driving crash that killed Eric Wells.

Wells’ family filled the front row. In the seats behind them were Kurt Weekly and Mary Mills who still carry the physical scars they suffered that day.

The courtroom was filled out with staff from the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and citizens from Fort Wayne who followed a trial that began with a mid-morning accident in the capital city two hours south and three summers ago.

Defense Attorney John Kautzman conferred with Lead Prosecutor Denise Robinson before Surbeck entered the room.

At 1:36 p.m., as a deputy prosecutor led the victims and their families from the courtroom for a final briefing before the hearing, Bisard appeared at the defense table in an orange and white striped jail jumpsuit, his wrists chained together.

It was the first time jurors had seen him since the trial when he appeared daily in a business suit and unencumbered.

Any pretense of innocence was gone. There was no more need to keep secrets from the jury.

At 2:31 p.m., one hour and one minute past the scheduled time, Surbeck assumed the bench and called the court to order.

Kautzman called his first witness, Dr. Stephen Ross, a Fort Wayne forensic psychologist who specializes in psychological assessment, therapy and evaluations.

Ross told the judge he consults with police departments. The psychologist said he conducted two interviews, totaling four and a half hours, with Bisard inside the Allen County Jail where he has remained since the beginning of the trial.

“I know there was an alcohol abuse problem after the 2010 accident,” said Ross.

Ross said that Bisard “broke down” while discussing the 2010 accident and its victims and the impact and “disgrace” it brought on his own family.

Bisard was the first officer on the scene of the Hovey Street killings in Indianapolis in 2008 where he discovered two young mothers and their children shot to death in a drug robbery.

Ross said Bisard realized the Hovey Street trauma he suffered manifested itself after the East 56th Street crash. Bisard received a psychological evaluation after an April 2010 police action shooting when he fatally wounded a bank robber on Indianapolis’ southside who was firing at officers.

Being shot at “accentuated his anxiety,” said Ross, who indicated that Bisard was evaluated and cleared for return to duty.

Bisard also “lost his cool” in arguing with a superior police officer and received a one day suspension but, again, was not referred for counseling.

Ross said Bisard expressed “genuine remorse” after the crash and suffered a stroke in 2011.

Bisard’s wife told Ross that her husband’s drinking was out of control in late 2012 and she asked him to move out of their house earlier this year and he appeared to remain sober for two months, though it was possible Bisard was hiding his drinking from his family.

In April, Bisard was arrested for a second DUI crash in Lawrence.

Bisard needs “extensive treatment” for alcohol-related issues when he is sentenced to the Department of Correction, said Ross.

Kautzman asked Ross if Bisard was an appropriate client for probation or short-term incarceration with intensive alcohol treatment to get “back on track.”

Ross agreed Bisard would be such a client.

Under cross examination by Robinson, Ross said it did not appear that Bisard ever actively sought out departmental counseling. Ross said Bisard still maintains he was not drinking on Aug. 6, 2010.

“I know police officers very well,” said Ross. “They suffer silently.”

Officer Dan Ryan, who testified during the trial that Bisard admitted drinking the night before the crash, took the stand.