FBI launches investigation into officers’ fatal shooting of unarmed black man

An earlier version of this story stated that “officers said they saw Bailey reach toward the center console,” investigators say it’s still unclear what happened.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The FBI announced Tuesday that it has launched a civil rights investigation into an officer-involved shooting that killed an unarmed black man late last month.

Aaron Bailey. (Photo Provided)

Two IMPD officers remain on administrative leave following the June 29 shooting of Aaron Bailey, 45, of Indianapolis. IMPD has said the two officers shot and killed Bailey following a traffic stop and brief chase. Bailey’s crashed his car into a tree during the chase.

He was unarmed. After being shot, Bailey was taken to a Eskenazi hospital where he later died.

In a statement, the FBI said:

The Indianapolis FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana have opened a civil rights investigation into the police action shooting of Aaron Bailey. The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner.  As this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.

Tuesday morning, IMPD Chief Bryan Roach discussed the matter during an informal media breakfast that the department hosts each month. Roach said that he reached out to the FBI one or two days after the shooting. He said the FBI told him that they felt IMPD could conduct an impartial investigation. Roach said he asked them to conduct a parallel investigation.

“I have every confidence in our investigation, but I understand there are people in the community that don’t. The FBI is getting everything that we have,” Roach said Tuesday morning to reporters.

An IMPD spokesman would not make Roach available for a formal interview on the matter saying: “he has provided the narrative that we are willing to share at this point. We will defer to the FBI for any additional information.”

On Monday, Mayor Joe Hogsett gave a fiery speech during a luncheon for the Indiana Black Expo. In it, he challenged community members not to draw conclusions too quickly — including not exonerating or indicting the officers involved.

“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 29th anymore than I could remake our past. But I must be held accountable for what happened on June 29, 2017, and I am accountable,” Hogsett said.

On Tuesday, Hogsett released this statement about the news of the FBI inquiry:

As a former federal prosecutor, I understand the value of having an outside perspective aid in an investigation. That’s why I encouraged Chief Roach to use all available resources to ensure transparency and foster community trust in the process.

The two officers remain on administrative leave. Roach said the two have not been assigned any duties at this time.

One local resident, Robert Polk, weighed in. “I feel like this is something to appease some people who are upset. If the guy would have stopped and put his hands up and surrendered, we would have a live guy today.”

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