No charges against IMPD officers in Aaron Bailey fatal shooting

Aaron Bailey. (Photo Provided)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A special prosecutor decided Tuesday that no criminal charges will be filed against the officers connected with the fatal shooting of an unarmed man, Aaron Bailey.

The prosecutor, Ken Cotter of St. Joseph County, concluded two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers killed Bailey on June 29 but acted in self-defense.

The conclusion led to three groups to have a small rally Tuesday night outside the City-County Building. The groups Showing Up for Real Justice Indianapolis, Indy 10 Black Lives Matter and DONT SLEEP said on a Facebook post they will come together “to show our support and concern for the Bailey family as we process the no indictment of the officers.”

In a press conference at the family lawyer’s office late Tuesday afternoon, Bailey’s daughter said the special prosecutor’s decision was confusing and upsetting. She said it did not make sense to her why police officers would not to be criminally charged for fatally shooting her father, who was unarmed, despite any conviction he had.

“I just am going to keep on finding justice for my dad,” Erica Bailey said.

IMPD called a press conference for Wednesday morning to respond to the special prosecutor’s decision.

With the criminal investigation completed, the mayor Tuesday called on IMPD to “launch a full administrative review into the actions that led to this police action shooting” and to complete it “as quickly as is responsible.”

The special prosecutor, Cotter, issued a news release Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by a report.

“In this written report, Prosecuting Attorney Cotter advises the Court that he has completed his investigation,” the release said. “The report also sets forth evidence gathered during the investigation and a legal analysis of the claim of self-defense. In the conclusion, it states ‘based upon the results of the investigation as outlined above, there is insufficient evidence to refute either the officer’s claim of subjective fear or the objective reasonableness of that fear.’ The report finishes by saying that, after applying Indiana self-defense statutes to the results of this investigation, Prosecutor Cotter determined that no criminal charges shall be filed against the two police officers.

“This decision was not taken lightly and was made after extensively reviewing the investigatory materials, re-interviewing witnesses, and assigning an investigator within his Office to conduct a supplemental investigation (full details of the steps taken are included in the attached document). Prosecutor Cotter also met with family members of Mr. Bailey and their attorney before filing this report.”

The FBI said Tuesday that its investigation into the case remains open.

“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,” the FBI said in a statement. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time.”

In the early morning hours of June 29, Bailey, 45, led police on a chase northwest of downtown and crashed his car. He was unarmed when exiting the vehicle, and two officers opened fire. Bailey died about a half hour later at a local hospital.

Police shot at Bailey 11 times, the lawsuit says, and four bullets struck him in the back.

After the shooting, police searched the vehicle and found no firearms inside it.

Police also arrested 26-year old Shiwanda Ward, who was in the car with Bailey, on a charge of possession of paraphernalia. The only witness, she was not injured.

The officers also were unharmed.

The deadly shooting came after a traffic stop, a chase and a crash. According to court documents, the officers involved feared for their lives and believed Bailey was reaching for a weapon in the console of the car. Police had previously declined to confirm or deny that both officers thought Bailey was reaching for a weapon.

Cotter’s report also revealed new information leading up to the chase. The IMPD officers, Carlton Howard and Michal Dinnsen, ran a computer check on Bailey after he was stopped. It found Bailey’s driver’s license was suspended. A further check found Bailey “had a number of convictions” and was “a suspect in multiple robberies.”

The report also said Bailey was on probation for a prior theft and was wearing a GPS monitoring device issued by the Marion County Probation Department. The device was recorded a day before the shooting as not working properly, but the violation report was not reported to a judge that day.

The computer check on the passenger, Ward, found she was “being monitored” for a homicide. “The database advised Officer Howard to contact a particular detective and to detain her,” the report said. “The database did not advise whether Ms. Ward was a suspect in the homicide.”

Bailey’s family — his sister and two surviving adult children — filed a lawsuit Sept. 21 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. The lawsuit against Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and two officers asks the court to convene a jury to determine whether the IMPD’s policies violate federal laws and to award the family monetary damages.

IMPD on Tuesday did not immediately respond to the special prosecutor’s report, but Chief Bryan Roach said he will have a brief press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the City-County Building. WISH-TV and WISHTV.com will air the press conference live.

Mayor Joe Hogsett issued a statement:

“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.”

Timeline

Here is a timeline of events since the shooting:

July 11: The FBI announced it has launched a civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting.

July 14: Mayor Joe Hogsett announced new policies including more training on racial bias and bringing in experts to analyze how officers are being trained. He also called for a review of the Citizens Police Complaint Board, and the opening of an IMPD Office of Diversity to track local trends and create a Use of Force Board to review incidents where an officer uses force.

July 15: Hundreds gathered at the Indiana Statehouse, including members of Bailey’s family, and called for justice for Bailey.

July 17: Bailey’s family issued a statement thanking the mayor for the new policies and reviews. “We are encouraged by the Mayor’s words, but anxious to see deadlines and concrete steps taken.”

July 19: Bailey’s family, in an interview with 24-Hour News 8, called for a special prosecutor to review whether the officers’ actions were criminal. The family also said it was looking into a civil lawsuit.

Aug. 10: Family and community activists held a press conference and rally to demand justice for Bailey.

Aug. 22: The Marion County prosecutor filed a request to bring in a special prosecutor to look into Bailey’s fatal shooting, and the family said it was happy to see another step taken in the process. The mayor called on IMPD to fully cooperate with the special prosecutor. The special prosecutor was appointed the next day.

Sept. 21: Bailey’s family — his sister and two surviving adult children — filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. The lawsuit against IMPD and two officers — named in the lawsuit, Carlton Howard and Michal Dinnsen — asks the court to convene a jury to determine whether the IMPD’s policies violate federal laws and to award the family monetary damages.

Oct. 31: The special prosecutor appointed in the case, St. Joseph County’s Ken Cotter, announces no charges will be filed against the police officers involved in the Bailey shooting. A small rally at the City-County Building and a press conference by Aaron’s daughter followed the announcement from the prosecutor. The FBI said it was continuing its investigation of the fatal shooting.