INDIANAPOLIS -- A special prosecutor has decided not to file charges against two IMPD officers in the fatal shooting of Aaron Bailey in June.
In a written statement released Tuesday afternoon, St. Joseph County Prosecutor Kenneth P. Cotter, who was assigned as special prosecutor in the case, said there was “insufficient evidence to refute either the officer’s claim of subjective fear or the objective reasonableness of that fear.”
“This decision was not taken lightly and was made after extensively reviewing the investigatory materials, re-interviewing witnesses and assigning an investigator within [Cotter’s] office to conduct a supplemental investigation,” Cotter’s office said in the statement.
Cotter also released a 16-page report outlining the reasons behind the decision not to charge the officers.
Bailey was driving just before 2 a.m. on June 29 when police pulled him over for a traffic violation near the intersection of Burdsal Parkway and Riverside Drive. For still-unknown reasons, Bailey sped from the scene and crashed into a tree near the intersection of 23rd and Aqueduct streets.
Moments after the crash, two IMPD officers who had pursued Bailey exited their vehicle and fired multiple rounds, striking Bailey four times.
Timeline of the Aaron Bailey Shooting
- 1:45 a.m.: Officers initiated a traffic stop at Burdsal Parkway and Riverside Drive for a traffic violation (9 minutes long) During that stop the man fled from officers.
- 1:54 a.m.: Officers announced over their radio that they were chasing the man
- 1:54 a.m.: Less than a minute later, the vehicle they were chasing crashed into a tree at 23rd Street and Aqueduct Street
- 1:55 a.m.: Officers announced on radio they were involved in a police action shooting
- 2:02 a.m.: EMS arrived on scene
- 2:05 a.m.: Driver was taken to Eskenazi Hospital
- 2:24 a.m.: Driver was pronounced deceased at Eskenazi Hospital
- 3:00 a.m.: Female passenger was arrested on a narcotics charge
An autopsy determined Bailey suffered gunshot wounds to his back, chest and upper shoulder areas. His family said they counted at least 11 bullet holes in his vehicle.
Shiwanda Ward, 26, who was in the passenger seat of Bailey's vehicle at the time of the shooting was not injured. She was arrested at the scene and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police say no weapon was found inside Bailey’s car or in his possession.
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In July, the FBI announced it had opened an investigation into potential civil rights violations in Bailey’s death after IMPD Chief Bryan Roach requested the agency conduct a parallel investigation.
Then in August, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office announced it had requested and been granted a special prosecutor in the case over concerns about trying the shootings of Bailey and Southport Police Lt. Aaron Allan.
Shortly after the shooting, Mayor Joe Hogsett promised there would be an administrative review of the shooting after the criminal investigation completed. On Tuesday, after the special prosecutor's decision was announced, Hogsett released a statement saying that review would still take place.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to all those impacted by the death of Mr. Bailey, including his family and those who called him a friend. At the outset of this process, I made a commitment to the community that immediately upon conclusion of the criminal investigation, IMPD would launch a full administrative review into the actions that led to this police action shooting. I intend to follow through with that commitment.
Effective immediately, I have asked Chief Bryan Roach to gather all evidence from the Special Prosecutor’s investigation along with any other available materials to begin that process. I have also asked that the review be expedited so that an administrative decision can be rendered as quickly as is responsible.
I offer my heartfelt thanks to faith and community leaders for their patience and leadership over the last four months, and I urge those who have been moved to action by these events to continue to challenge our city to do more to earn and sustain trust between Indianapolis neighborhoods and our police department.”
Rev. Charles Harrison of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition said he was disappointed, but not surprised by the decision.
"There is this fear out here that black men can be shot by police and no one is holding them accountable so you're going to hear that in the community... that well here we go again," said Harrison.
The officers themselves were never named publicly until September, when Bailey’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit naming them as defendants in the case. The officers, Carlton Howard and Michael Dinnsen, have never made a public statement about the case.
Call 6 Investigates found that neither officer has any previous reports of discipline in his file.
In the lawsuit filed by attorney Craig R. Karpe, the family claims the two officers fired at Bailey's stopped vehicle "without prior verbal command or warning."
The lawsuit also claims that Bailey never tried to exit his vehicle, face the officers or threaten them after he crashed his car.
The family is suing the city on the claim that a "culture of indifference" has permeated the department. The lawsuit claims IMPD and Indianapolis failed to train its officers on the use of force and implicit bias. The lawsuit also charges the city with failing to hold its officers accountable for not using body cameras.
The family is requesting repayment for medical expenses, burial fees, attorney fees and loss of love and companionship. The lawsuit requests a jury trial.
W. Jay Abbott, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division, told RTV6 the agency’s civil rights investigation in the case remains ongoing.
“The FBI will review all available evidence and facts and will conduct additional investigative steps where appropriate,” Abbott said. “We are coordinating with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana and the Department of Justice to determine whether a violation of federal civil rights has occurred. As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time.”
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