Off-duty Ind. officer kills pedestrian, alcohol suspected

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Off-duty Ind. officer kills pedestrian, alcohol suspected.

INDIANAPOLIS — An off-duty Indianapolis police officer, suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, police said, fatally struck a pedestrian late Thursday night. The officer, identified as Bernardo Zavalza, a seven-year veteran of the force, has been placed on administrative leave with his police powers suspended, notes a news release, citing the department’s “strict” alcohol policy.

No immediate decisions have been made on criminal charges or disciplinary action against the officer, police spokesman Officer Christopher Wilburn said Friday. The officer stopped after striking the man and got out to help him, performing chest compressions, but the victim was declared dead at the scene, police spokesman Lt. Riddle said officers were already heading to the scene because of the report of a man — believed to be the victim — walking in the road near an Interstate 65 interchange on the city’s south side. In the wake of the Bisard case, the police department said it strengthened crash investigation procedures and several regulations about alcohol use on the job.

The department also said it bolstered its officer assistance program. “The Bisard incident certainly gave the department a real reason to stop and reflect,” said attorney Bruce Kehoe. “Whether these changes are real is yet to be seen.” Every police officer involved in a crash is now required to take a portable breath test if there is property damage or an injury. The Indianapolis police department was roiled five years ago when one of its officers driving a squad car caused a crash that killed one person and injured two others. Former Officer David Bisard was convicted of drunken driving in that case and is serving a 16-year prison sentence. “Obviously there were questions after Bisard, and we are doing everything by policy in this incident to show that no officer is above the law,” Riddle said. They can be disciplined for driving with any amount of alcohol in their systems, even if it is less than the state’s 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level for DUI charges.

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