INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police announced recommendations following the IMPD Merit Board’s decision to clear two officers who killed Aaron Bailey.
Police said in June 2017, Bailey fled from a traffic stop. The officers shot him when they thought he was reaching for a gun, but no weapon was found. The merit board voted 5-2 to clear the officers.
The board's decision drew outcry from some community members, and Bailey's family is also questioning how the case and investigation were handled.
Nearly two weeks after the Merit Board decision, the leader of the Fraternal Order of Police, the mayor and the family of Aaron Bailey all spoke about the decision and how the city can move forward.
Some harsh words were thrown around by all sides immediately following the Merit Board ruling. Two weeks later, everyone took a more diplomatic tone, while still not really agreeing on ways to help improve the process in the future.
Emotional testimony by officers Michael Dinnsen and Carlton Howard during the Merit Board hearing, helped them keep their jobs, but that ruling came under fire from the mayor who called for changes to the merit board.
“It’s not a personal attack on Merit Board members, but I have concerns about the process,” said mayor Joe Hogsett.
“We do not believe any changes are needed,” said FOP president Rick Snyder.
Snyder challenged the mayor to think bigger. To help prevent a repeat of last year’s shooting the police union will invest 25 thousand dollars in a public awareness campaign. Snyder says education and prevention is more important than changes to the Merit Board itself.
“I think this is an opportunity for all of us to come together. Stop pointing fingers and figure out how we stand together,” said Snyder.
“How do we move the city forward? We need to protect the men and women of IMPD while addressing legitimate concerns raised by the community,” said Hogsett.
On Monday, Indianapolis City-County councilors also discussed changes to the merit board, saying they will consider a proposal to change the makeup of the police merit board.
“The changes in that proposal would have made no difference in the outcome of this Merit Board proceeding,” said Snyder.
For their part, the family of Aaron Bailey said the Merit Board made a reasonable decision based on the cases presented, but called for independent and not city hired attorneys to be used in cases going forward.
“The city should have worked a little harder than they did,” said Bailey’s daughter Erica Bailey. “They need to be focusing more on themselves than worrying about the community. Your officers need more training.”
Following the mayor’s initial criticism of the outcome, one merit board member called the city’s case inept.
One of the city’s attorneys has submitted a letter of resignation effective next month.