INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer David Bisard pleaded guilty to a drunk driving charge Wednesday, but will serve no additional jail time. The conviction stems from a second operating while intoxicated arrest in Lawrence last year.
Judge Linda Brown sentenced Bisard to a one-year jail term, but suspended the sentence, effectively giving Bisard a one-year term of probation. The sentence will be served consecutively, or separately, from Bisard’s 13-year sentence for the 2010 crash that killed Eric Wells and injured two other motorcyclists.
Brown also ruled that Bisard’s driver’s license will be suspended for one year starting the day he is released from prison, and that he must abstain from all alcohol while on probation, attend alcohol evaluation and treatment, and submit to random alcohol testing through urinalysis.
The sentence was handed down following a lengthy hearing Wednesday morning where Bisard agreed to plead guilty, but allow the judge to set the terms of his sentence. Under Indiana law, the judge could have imposed up to a one-year sentence in the Marion County Jail and a $5,000 fine.
Asked if he had any statement before sentencing, Bisard raised his head and spoke to the judge.
“I’m here to accept full responsibility for my actions,” he said. “I didn’t handle any of that correctly. And, I will accept whatever you decide. But, my two girls need me. My wife needs me. I need my two girls and I need my wife. I will use my 13-year sentence for good. I don’t believe an additional year [in jail] will do me or community any additional good.”
In arguing for the maximum sentence, Deputy Prosecutor Tom Hirschauer argued that Bisard’s second DUI arrest while he was on pre-trial release for another DUI case involving death should “outweigh any other aggravating factor.”
“This indicates Mr. Bisard is an absolute danger to the community,” Hirschauer said. “We would ask for the maximum to be imposed.”
Bisard’s attorney, John Kautzman, countered by saying that such a sentence is reserved for “the worst of the worst,” and that Bisard’s actions in crashing a pickup truck into a guard rail in Lawrence in April of 2013 did not fit that description.
“The law suggests a five-day sentence for a second offense, not 365 days,” Kautzman said. “If this were anyone else besides David Bisard, we wouldn’t even be here debating this.”
Following the sentencing, Kautzman said he viewed efforts to seek the maximum term allowed as a political stunt.
“Whether or not the prosecutor’s office had any political thing to gain in that regard, or if they just felt that was the appropriate sentence, either way, we’re pleased that the judge felt that would not be an appropriate sentence,” he said.
Kautzman pointed to Bisard’s efforts to seek alcohol counseling and treatment in prison, and said they are paying off.
“He is very remorseful, and frankly has been long before the conviction in Fort Wayne about the terrible tragedy that happened in 2010. By the time this case rolled around, he was a person that was not handling well the stresses that occured from the 2010 arrest. And, he became a serious candidate with alcohol problems that needed treatment. He’s getting some of that. We hope he will get more while he’s incarcerated. Clearly, he’s a changed person, and his family are changed in that regard,” he said.
Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson disagreed.
“No, I don’t [believe he has shown remorse],” she said. “Acceptance of responsibility is different than remorse. Acceptance of responsibility, in this case, I would call acceptance of the inevitable. This was an extremely strong case.”
Reached by 24-Hour News 8 at her home in Florida, Mary Wells, whose son Eric was killed in the 2010 crash, said she was disappointed in the sentence.
“I’m just at a loss,” she said. “It’s only by the grace of God that he didn’t kill someone. I don’t think it’s OK to just say, he didn’t, so give him probation. I don’t believe he’s remorseful. I believe he’s sorry he got caught.”
Following Wednesday’s plea hearing, Kautzman said appeals on the conviction for the 2010 crash were already underway, though they were being held up by a lack of complete transcripts from the trial. An Allen County judge sentenced Bisard to 16 years in prison, with three years suspended for probation in that case.
Regardless of when the transcripts are completed, the appeal will be handled by a public defender. Bisard’s family is currently filing for bankruptcy, said Kautzman.
Below is a timeline of events in the cases against David Bisard:
- Bisard’s first arrest was in August of 2010 following the deadly crash.
- A few days later, drunk driving charges were dropped because prosecutors said blood taken from Bisard after the crash was not usable in court.
- In January of 2011, new Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry re-filed the drunk driving charges.
- In April of 2013, police arrested Bisard for allegedly drunk driving in a separate case in Lawrence.
- In November of 2013, a jury convicted Bisard for that first arrest, and deadly crash.
- Wednesday, Bisard pleaded guilty in his second arrest.