ALLEN COUNTY – At 10:45 a.m, three years, two months and ten days after a fatal crash on the north side of Indianapolis, an Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer was the first person called to the stand in the David Bisard trial.
The first witness for the State was IMPD Patrol Officer Shannon Harmon, a north district patrolman who did not regularly work alongside Bisard who was assigned to the department’s K9 division.
Harmon told jurors he was dispatched to the vicinity of 42nd Street and Priscilla Avenue on a report of a subject wanted on a felony marijuana warrant.
That man was Terrance Malone.
Harmon testified that he did not activate his lights and sirens and did not find the suspect who was reported in the area on a bicycle.
After a five-minute search, Harmon told the jury he heard a report of the Bisard crash. He said he was aware Bisard offered to back up his search for the wanted man.
With the assistance of lead prosecutor Denise Robinson, Harmon used a pointer and a large map to show jurors the geographical location of the crash site and his approach to the scene after he became aware of the accident.
Harmon said he didn’t have any contact with Bisard after the crash that killed motorcyclist Eric Wells and injured Kurt Weekly and Mary Mills.
Upon cross examination by defense attorney John Kautzman, Harmon said K9 officers such as Bisard often take a pro-active approach to respond across the city to calls for back up.
Harmon testified that as he responded to the Bisard crash scene, he activated his vehicle’s lights and sirens and likely exceeded the speed limit to provide traffic control assistance.
“I was trying to get there in a safe manner,” he told the court.
Robinson told jurors in her opening statement that they would be hearing IMPD radio transmission audio tapes of that day.
“His voice was shaken as he called for help,” said Harmon, recalling he heard Bisard’s radio dispatch calls.
Next, jurors heard from Marion County Sheriff’s Department radio dispatch supervisor Shelia Beisel, who explained to the jury the department’s Computer Aided Dispatch, CAD, history of the police response that morning.
Jurors were handed copies of the CAD history of Aug. 6, 2010, as it related to the Bisard crash. The court heard tapes of 911 calls that day describing how witness Barbara Belt spotted a victim “flying through the air.”
Another witness said “a police car was involved.”
The jurors concentrated as they listened to the tapes, following along with the printed logs they were handed.
Aaron Wells, the father of Eric Wells, was emotional listening to the 911 calls.
Bisard’s wife and another relative left the courtroom before Robinson told jurors details about the crash and the playing of the tapes.
Witness Jennifer Westfall reported to a 911 dispatcher that “the officer is not hurt but the motorcycle riders are.”
Fox 59 viewers first heard those tapes exclusively in May 2012.
Beisel was excused and Belt—one of the witnesses who called 911—took the stand.
Belt told jurors that as she drove eastbound on 56th Street, she saw the spotlight at Brendon Way South Drive turn red and stopped her car.
“The light turned green and I started to go through and did see the motorcycles sit there,” said Belt as she become emotional recalling the crash. “They were talking to one another and I saw a car and…one of the persons turned this way and shot out…I saw him cartwheeling through the air and hit the pavement on the side of the street.”
Her testimony continued, “I was shocked it was a police car. It happened in front of me,” said Belt as she described the flashing lights of Bisard’s car. “I never heard a siren. It was just there.”
Belt continued, “In all honesty it was like slow motion to me. The mind slowed down and it was in slow motion. I saw Eric Wells all across the way on Brendon Way.”
Belt said she now knows the name of the man killed that day because of a memorial sign erected at the intersection.
“I was shaken so bad I didn’t know I could walk over there,” she said.
Belt said she then watched Bisard get out of his wrecked patrol car.
“I saw him get out of the car and kneel down to the man on this side of the street,” she recalled. “I just saw him bending over. I don’t know what he was doing. He didn’t get up from there after he got down on his knee. All I saw was he kept bending over. I had no idea what he was doing.”
Witnesses Lisa Moyer, Jennifer Westfall and Samantha Daniels testified about what they saw that day.
Moyer, a nurse, tried to revive Wells with CPR. Westfall and Daniels broke down on the stand in front of jurors.
Witness Tamika Franklin said she spotted one of the victims in the street and a police officer walking and pacing with his arms folded. Franklin identified Bisard sitting at the defense table as the officer she saw that day.
“I just asked him if everything was okay and he nodded, ‘Yes.'”
Dana Dugan was a paramedic who responded to the accident scene and attended to injured motorcycle rider Mary Mills.
“Mary Mills was on a backboard… she was in and out of consciousness,” said Dugan. “I would have said (her medical condition) was critical at that time.”
Dugan said Mills had a head injury and experienced irregular breathing as she was treated.
Dennis Dorsey, an emergency medical technician. testified that he also found Mills combative after the crash, which Dugan indicated could be a sign of a head injury.
None of the witnesses indicated that they spotted any signs of intoxication in Bisard.
“The defense is really going to focus on the problems of proving intoxication,” said Colin Andrews, a former prosecutor and now private attorney in Fort Wayne who attended the opening statements of the trial. “Intoxication has to be proven with evidence and what they said was there really isn’t a lot of evidence of intoxication than the blood draw that we’ve all been talking about for the last few years now.”
Testimony about the blood draw taken from Bisard the day of the crash is expected this week with forensics experts who can confirm the testing of the officer’s blood for the presence of alcohol set to testify next week. Those tests showed Bisard’s blood alcohol level at 0.18 to 0.19, which is more than twice the level to legally drive in Indiana. The results led to the most serious of the nine felony charges against Bisard.
Todd Warren, who was an EMT with the Lawrence Police Department that day, told jurors how he discovered Wells on the ground and “bleeding from the back of the head.” Warren also described Wells’ labored breathing.
Jurors were also able to view police photographs of the scene, and will eventually watch television news video of the accident site.
In all, jurors heard testimony from 11 witnesses. The State has listed 70 potential witnesses and Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told Fox 59 News he expects all of them to be called. The defense has listed 113 potential witnesses.
The case is expected to last at least three weeks.