Update: The case has been settled and a statement is expected by 6 p.m. Read more here.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - At 9:00 Monday morning, attorneys representing the city and the family of Aaron Bailey are set to appear before a federal judge to begin talks in resolving a civil lawsuit filed after last summer’s fatal shooting of Bailey by two IMPD officers.
Bailey’s family is seeking damages and changes in the way IMPD trains officers to patrol the city.
City attorneys may be looking for a way to reach a fair settlement, acknowledge flaws in IMPD’s system and get last summer’s tragedy behind Indianapolis before this summer heats up anymore.
“These cases are almost always very difficult. They have a lot of issues surrounding them. There are typically legal issues, there are policy and procedural issues and there are also political issues,” said Peter Beering, former General Counsel and Deputy Director of Public Safety, who advised on similar tort claim and lawsuit settlements during the administration of previous Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. “Many of these cases are polarizing. Many are fraught with very very difficult conversations that are uncomfortable for all of the participants.”
The Bailey family must contend with the loss of a loved one who crashed his car while fleeing from police and was shot to death while not immediately surrendering.
IMPD and the city have already acknowledged the need for policy, training and procedural reviews in the wake of the shooting after Chief Roach failed in his attempt to fire officers Michael Dinnsen and Carlton Howard.
Neither officer was criminally charged when it was determined they were within legal bounds to fear for their lives following Bailey’s crash.
“The family is obviously distraught. They lost a family member that shouldn’t have been lost and the question is, ‘How do you compensate someone for that loss?’” said Beering, who expects city attorneys will refer to actuarial tables and expected lifetime earnings to reach a financial settlement with the Bailey family, “and in this case, I suspect they would also be looking for changes to policy, changes to procedure and some changes to training for the police.”
Beering said the current public safety environment in Indianapolis and other recent city and state civil settlements give an indication as to the potential conclusion of the Bailey lawsuit.
The mother of teenager Brandon Johnson received a $150,000 settlement from the city following the 2010 arrest of her son that left the boy battered and bruised.
That officer was not charged and retained his job.
The city paid out more than $4 million to victims, family members and even top police commanders following the 2010 crash of IMPD Officer David Bisard, who was later determined to be drunk on duty when he drove his patrol car into a trio of motorcyclists, killing one and injuring two.
Bisard was fired and served approximately four years in jail and prison.
The 2011 Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse cost taxpayers $11 million in settlements with dozens of victims, including the families of the five people who were killed.
Private insurance settlements paid out approximately $50 million more.
“The city at the end of the day is self-insured for these kinds of things, there isn’t an unlimited sum of money to settle these kinds of problems, so the lawyers representing the city have to be sensitive to all of the issues surrounding their checkbook,” said Beering. “I think that there is a strong case to be made for figure out some solution to this and engage in a conversation and start that conversation now. I think the mayor’s interested in that, I think various community leaders are interested in that, certainly the Bailey family seems to be interested in that conversation.”
Last Tuesday, Mayor Joe Hogsett and Chief Roach unveiled their plans to combat violence this summer as the city’s homicide total has already surpassed last year’s record pace, lending a sense of urgency to resolving the Bailey civil litigation.
“The city is in the business of doing unpleasant things,” said Beering, “and the city is gonna try to strike a balance between doing the right thing and coming up with a precedent that it doesn’t cause undue burdens down the calendar.”