The Latest: Officer suspended after fatal pedestrian crash

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

1 dead after officer-involved wreck in Indianapolis, police say.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The latest developments on a crash involving an off-duty Indianapolis police officer who police say fatally stuck a pedestrian and smelled of alcohol (all times local): Police said Friday that Officer Bernardo Zavalza struck the man late Thursday night along a street where, just minutes earlier, a 911 caller reported that a man wearing dark clothing was walking in traffic. INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 25, 2015) – The investigation continues after an off-duty IMPD officer struck and killed a pedestrian in his department-issued car. 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. After striking the man just before midnight, the off-duty officer got out of his car and performed chest compressions, but was unable to resuscitate the victim, according to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. Officers were already responding to the area on a report of a man walking in the middle of the street and arrived within minutes of the accident, Riddle said.

The officer’s whereabouts prior to the accident are unknown, Lieutenant Riddle said, adding that police were waiting on a search warrant for his vehicle. Zavalza, 39, was taken to the hospital sometime after 1:30 a.m. to complete the fatal accident investigation and the investigation involving the potential impairment, which includes a blood draw. “There’s a zero-tolerance policy for operating one of our (Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department) vehicles (under the influence), whether you’re on-duty or off-duty.” “By law, we have three hours from when the crash happened to conduct a DUI investigation,” Riddle said. “For him to be here at the scene for investigators to make observations and do their investigation, that is not outside of the realm that a normal individual would go through.” Peg McLeish, a spokeswoman for the Marion County prosecutor’s office, said she does not expect the office will make a charging decision Friday, citing a “number of factors” that play into investigating fatal crashes. “There’s a zero-tolerance policy for operating one of our (Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department) vehicles (under the influence), whether you’re on-duty or off-duty,” Riddle said. “That is the expectation of our officers. 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. If that supervisor notices any signs of intoxication, like Thursday night, then a DUI investigator is called. “I think that more needs to be done but what I tell family members and people that are closely associated with first responders across the nation is take investment in your loved one, make sure that they’re getting the support that they need,” said Troy Riggs, former Indianapolis Public Safety Director. Last fall officials in the Public Safety Department pushed to change the termination policy for IMPD and give greater power to discipline or fire employees before legal proceedings are completed. “The merit law is still being negotiated,” said Dept. of Public Safety Deputy Director Bryan Roach. “The Chief’s ability to fire (an officer) is not being changed, however, and the current process will continue.” Representatives with Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been meeting with IMPD officials over the past couple of weeks.

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. They are capable of making bad decisions too as well as anyone else,” said MADD Indiana’s Lael Hill when asked about previous officers convicted of this crime. “Our organization does not have any involvement in the matter from last night and therefore we cannot speak to the investigation that continues.

Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site