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Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett: 'I am accountable' for Aaron Bailey shooting

Posted at 11:49 AM, Jul 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-10 19:47:23-04

Editor's note: This story previously stated that there was an altercation between police officers and Bailey.

INDIANAPOLIS -- At the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration Mayor's Breakfast Monday morning, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett gave an impassioned speech about injustice and division in the city. 

Beginning with the police shooting of Aaron Bailey in June, Hogsett discussed the history of race injustice in America, and how not acknowledging it leads to distrust in the community.

Police say Bailey was driving just before 2:00 a.m. on June 29 when police pulled him over for a traffic violation near the intersection of Burdsal Parkway and Riverside Drive. During that stop, Bailey sped from the scene before he crashed into a tree near the intersection of 23rd and Aqueduct streets.

After that crash, two officers fired "multiple" rounds at the vehicle, hitting Bailey. He was taken to the hospital where he later died.

No weapon was found inside the vehicle.

The circumstances surrounding that shooting have not been released.

On Monday, Hogsett said he will soon present new steps Indianapolis will take to embrace "systemic change" in the city. 

RELATED | Man was shot by two officers 'multiple' times Man killed by IMPD officers was in-and-out of jail, convicted of 14 felonies IMPD Chief: Officer-involved shooting a 'true test' of relationship between police & community | Daughter of man killed by IMPD: 'We want justice' | Call 6: Warrant issued for man killed by IMPD on the same day he died | Former landlord of Aaron Bailey shares memories, reacts to shooting death | NAACP responds to officer-involved shooting of Aaron Bailey

Read the transcript of Hogsett's speech below, and watch it in the video player above. 

Dr. King once said:

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

On Thursday, June 29, 2017, Aaron Bailey was shot and killed in our city as a result of a police-action shooting.

He was unarmed.

The precise facts of that incident are under investigation, both administratively and criminally.

As part of that investigation, the important question will be:

"What specific set of circumstances that night led to Aaron Bailey's death?"

The Marion County Prosecutors Office will consider the answer to that question and make determinations. In addition, a comprehensive review of the facts of the matter will be conducted.

It is my responsibility to ensure those efforts will be conducted and completed expeditiously -- with as much openness and transparency as due process allows.

Underlying what happened that night lies a much broader and deeper and no less important question:

"What broader set of circumstances must we see, must we understand, and most importantly, must acknowledge in considering what happened that night?"

Circumstances that involve race and history in America.

On July 4, mere days after this tragedy, I served as a participant in a naturalization ceremony, conducted by the Honorable Sarah Evans Barker, a federal district court judge of the Southern District of Indiana.

I watched person after person raise their right hand and swear an oath to this country. With their families beside them they proudly smiled and laughed with joy.

Achieving for many what was a long held dream.

In taking that oath and becoming citizens, sets of rights and responsibilities were bestowed upon them.

But that's not all.

For those rights and responsibilities are born of a raw and real history.

And in being or becoming an American, we all inherit that history.

And we inherit all of it. 

I note this because it is precisely that point, the failure by some, to acknowledge all of our past that so often explains the distrust and divisions that beset our cities and our nation.

Distrust and division between white and black, between rich and poor, between community and law enforcement. 

If the words of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal, with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are etched on tattered parchments and marble monuments, so must we equally bare witness to the fact that we have yet to fully live up to them.

President Barack Obama, when discussing race, once quoted William Faulkner. Faulkner had said, "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

Prejudice, poverty, humiliation hate, pain, loss, slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, segregation, mass incarceration, assassination.

All perpetuated by the relevant, contemporaneous authority in America. 

As a nation and as a city, we must acknowledge that history. All of us.

And the fear and the distrust that comes with it. 

All of us.

And it starts with me.

If a community does not bear witness together, if it chooses to look the other way, it risks its very soul.

In Indianapolis, we must choose now and in the future to acknowledge the past -- all of it. And we must choose to address it, head on.

So that the past will not repeat itself.

In the coming days, I will outline specific steps the city of Indianapolis will take to meaningfully respond to our community's concerns. Those steps will involve embracing systemic change.

And in the months to follow, we will carry out those steps.

It will be hard, I have no illusion.

And it certainly won't happen overnight.

But we must be serious, judicious, transparent, objective and fair. Indeed, not everyone will agree with the decisions I make. I'm used to that. 

And on that point, let me offer a few observations about this ongoing community conversation.

As I consider and determine the broad course of action we take as a community, what I will be not be persuaded by posturing.

In response to the events of June 29, I have heard some in our community, not many, but some who have suggested in full confidence that as tragic and as unfortunate as the situation may be, nothing, at least fundamentally, is wrong. That while unfortunate, nothing needs to change.

They did so reactively, without knowing or considering the entirety of the facts. Early on, an investigation had not even begun and yet conclusions had already been made.

In my mind, advocacy of the status quo ante is unfortunate and serves only to underscore the distrust that many feel. If we truly care about the rule of law, in law and in order, then i would strongly suggest that such voices cannot prevail.

But, but neither can we stand silent while some others, in immediate response to the events of June 29, demanded the immediate criminal indictment, prosecution, conviction, termination and other sanctions of all of those involved. Again, not a single person knew all of the facts. With formal inquiries not even begun, and yet conclusions had already been drawn.

My friends, perceived justice, born of historic injustice, is not justice at all.

It is nothing more than revenge. And it threatens to drown out those who seek, truly, what is real, what is right.

Dr. King reminds us, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, Only love can do that."

On June 29, 2017, an unarmed African-American man was shot and killed in the city of Indianapolis. I happen to be the mayor.

I cannot undo what occurred on June 29 anymore than I can remake our past.

But I must be held accountable for what happened on June 29, 2017.

And I am accountable.

I must acknowledge that when lights come on in the rearview mirror, A fear and distrust born of years of incontrovertible prejudice and abuse exists. And I do acknowledge that.

I must commit to doing everything in my power to change whatever is wrong where ever it exists, with no sacred cows. And I will.

What I can't do is promise this city will never again experience tragedy or injustice. It probably will. But that does not make it acceptable.

Yesterday, I spent the morning going from worship service, to worship service, to worship service, to worship service.

I left my home early yesterday morning weary. I returned to my home and wrote these remarks. Our community always sustains me.

I'm not certain we can make this country or this city perfect. But I do believe, deep in my heart, that we can and will make it better. More just more safe -- more prosperous.

I do believe deep in my heart that we can give our children a better life than we inherited. I do believe deep in my heart, we are one city.

I thank you.