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No charges for IMPD officers as Justice Department closes review into Aaron Bailey shooting

Aaron Bailey (photo courtesy of his daughter)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The U.S. Justice Department announced the closure of their review into the 2017 deadly shooting of Aaron Bailey by Indianapolis police.

U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced the department found “insufficient evidence to support federal criminal civil rights charges against the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers involved in the shooting.”

Two police officers shot Aaron Bailey, 45, four times after he crashed his car into a tree following a brief pursuit that began when he sped away from a traffic stop.

Bailey’s family reached a $650,000 civil settlement with the city last year. Bailey’s family agreed to drop a federal lawsuit they filed in September against the city, its police department and Officers Michael Dinnsen and Carlton Howard.

The suit alleged that Bailey posed no threat to the officers, and that officers used excessive force and violated Bailey’s constitutional rights. Howard and Dinnsen both said Bailey ignored commands to show his hands after the crash.

A special prosecutor declined to file criminal charges against the officers, citing their claims of self-defense. A civilian police merit board cleared both officers of wrongdoing following a three-day hearing.

On Friday, Mikler said federal authorities “conducted a comprehensive and independent review of all evidence gathered during multiple investigations and proceedings relating to the shooting.  These materials included, among other things, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department homicide investigation, the investigation and report of the appointed state special prosecutor, the proceedings before the Indianapolis Civilian Police Merit Board, and the independent investigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Prosecutors determined there was insufficient evidence to prove any violation of the civil rights statute. Such evidence would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers used force that was objectively unreasonable. It would also need to prove the officers acted willfully, meaning they knew the actions were unlawful.

“Moreover, the law requires that this determination allow for the fact that law enforcement officers are often forced to make split-second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving, and also requires that an officer’s force be judged without the benefit and added perspective of hindsight,” the Justice Department said in a release.

The Justice Department says the case has been closed with no further prosecution.

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