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Firearms review board to take up Aaron Bailey case; will meet Friday

Aaron Bailey (photo courtesy of his daughter)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A firearms review board will examine the shooting death of Aaron Bailey by two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers in June as the administrative phase of the investigation comes to a conclusion.

IMPD Chief Bryan Roach outlined the next steps in the case during a news briefing Wednesday morning. He said the administrative component of the parallel investigation into Bailey’s shooting is nearing an end.

Roach told reporters that he needed to wait until the criminal component of the investigation came to a close. A special prosecutor announced Tuesday that there was not enough evidence to charge the two officers who fatally shot Bailey during a June 29 traffic stop.

Bailey crashed after leading police on a brief chase; officers shot him when he got out of his car and said they thought he’d reached into the vehicle’s center console to retrieve a weapon. The officers were identified as Michal Dinnsen and Carlton Howard.

Roach told reporters Wednesday that he understood that Bailey’s family was frustrated with the ultimate result of the criminal probe.

“I understand that the decision of the special prosecutor wasn’t the one they wanted,” Roach said. “I’m grateful for the peaceful and well-organized demonstrations that have occurred in the last few months, and the cooperation that we’ve had with those who’ve wanted to express their concerns about the way things were handled by their police department.”

Several protesters took to the streets Tuesday night after the special prosecutor’s decision was made public.

Roach said he appreciated the community dialogue as well as the resolve of IMPD’s officers as they’ve grappled with the shooting and the national climate and frustration that people feel about “systems in society.”

With the criminal component of the investigation concluded, the administrative portion will wrap up quickly, Roach said. Materials from the investigation will be sent to the firearms review board, which will take a look at the evidence and determine if the officers violated departmental policy.

The material for review includes the special prosecutor’s findings, information from internal affairs (including statements from the officers), and a tactical evaluation of training from the academy. Roach said he didn’t want a long gap between the end of the criminal probe and the administrative review.

The board will meet Friday and will ultimately determine if the officers were in compliance or out of compliance with the department’s policies. Once it makes its recommendation, Roach can accept it, disagree with it or send it back to the board for further review and to answer any questions he may have.

“Ultimately, it will be my decision. If there are any policy violations, any discipline that occurs is my responsibility,” Roach said. “That discipline could run the gamut, and I’m prepared to make that decision based on the information that’s given to me.”

He said he’ll make the determine “as soon as possible” but wants to make sure it’s a “thorough process.”

The board includes the commander of the internal affairs division, the commander of criminal investigations, the commander of the training academy, a lieutenant from the same division as the officers (operations, in this case) and a peer of the two officers (someone with the same rank).

The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #86 issued this statement:

Anytime officers respond to tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving events which require law enforcement intervention and a life is lost, it is a tragedy. We ask our community to join in our prayers for the Bailey family and for the Officers involved and their families.

Appropriate scrutiny and concern about the actions of police officers is warranted and everyone must ensure that we gather all the facts related to any such incident. We value a full review and fair process for everyone and appreciate the due diligence of the Special Prosecutor who examined all of the facts and determined that the involved officers acted within the law.

Officers work hard every day to protect the public and prevent crime. The job they do is difficult and requires them to make split second decisions. As we collectively move forward, our Indianapolis police officers remain committed to protecting our city in ongoing service to our residents and visitors.

The African American Coalition of Indianapolis–a collection of groups inluding Indiana Black Expo, the Indianapolis Urban League, and others–issued this statement:

At the outset of the tragic death of Aaron Bailey, the African American Coalition of Indianapolis sought to improve Indianapolis’ process for investigating and prosecuting police action shootings. To this end, we advocated for and received a multi-agency investigation, a special prosecutor, and a grand jury was not used to arrive at a decision.

Special Prosecutor Cotter has declined to prosecute IMPD officers Dinnsen and Howard in the shooting death of Aaron Bailey. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Bailey family and others who experienced similar tragedies. We call for peace throughout our community and encourage our residents who choose to demonstrate to do so in a spirit of cooperation and love.

We understand that IMPD is engaged in its administrative review of the incident and that the officers may still face discipline. We also note that the FBI will conduct a review to understand if Aaron Bailey’s civil rights were violated. After meetings and discussions with community leaders in June and July, IMPD’s leadership initiated several reforms and policy reviews. We call on IMPD to complete the administrative reviews as expeditiously as due process will afford and to continue the important work of reform.

The African American Coalition of Indianapolis will continue to join others including IMPD, as well as elected and appointed officials, in the necessary work of reforming law enforcement practices and procedures and restoring faith in a criminal justice system that has over time garnered an earned mistrust among many in our community. Our work is far from complete. We will redouble our efforts to engage with anyone who is willing to take positive steps to move our community forward towards a system of justice that treats everyone equally before the law.