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FBI opens civil rights investigation into police shooting of Aaron Bailey

June 11, 2017  | Indianapolis Star | Link to Article


The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the police shooting of Aaron Bailey, an unarmed black man who was killed last month by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers. 

IMPD Chief Bryan Roach said Tuesday that the Police Department asked for the FBI's assistance because the community wants an independent review. He and Mayor Joe Hogsett have stressed transparency in their own inquiry. 

"I have every confidence in our investigation," Roach said. "At the same time, I understand there are people in our community who don't."

Bailey, 45, was shot and killed by Officers Michal P. Dinnsen and Carlton J. Howard after a chase that followed a traffic stop on the city's north side around 2 a.m. June 29. The officers, who joined the department in 2014, are on administrative leave. Neither has a disciplinary record.

The shooting was decried by pastors with the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network and other community leaders, who are calling for the officers to be fired and prosecuted. Advocacy group Don't Sleep called for justice in a rally last month, and at least one more rally is planned Saturday at the Indiana Statehouse while the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration is underway Downtown.

Tony Mason, president of the Indianapolis Urban League, said he was "pleased" to hear about the federal civil rights inquiry.

"We want to make sure the process is as transparent as possible," Mason said.

Police have not said why they stopped Bailey's vehicle about 1:45 a.m. near Burdsal Parkway and East Riverside Drive. 

Court records show that a warrant had been issued for his arrest earlier that day because he had violated the terms of his release on a pending Feb. 2 theft charge.  

About 10 minutes after the traffic stop, Bailey suddenly took off, police said. A police chase ensued, but after about a minute Bailey crashed his sedan into a fence near the intersection of 23rd and Aqueduct streets.

Police said Bailey reached down toward the center console of his sedan when the two officers approached. Both officers fired their weapons. Bailey was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at Eskenazi Hospital.

Many details of the shooting are still unclear. Officials have yet to say how many shots were fired, why Bailey was pulled over or whether he said anything to the officers before they fired.

Others offered a more cautious perspective. 

Dominic Dorsey, president of Don't Sleep, said the group has been calling for a review from an unbiased third party. He noted that IMPD administrators and the mayor's office have a close relationship with the FBI's Indianapolis field office.

Hogsett served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District before being elected mayor in 2015. 

Dorsey said he hopes the investigation does not rely solely on information that IMPD provides to agents.

"The magnitude of what happened is not lost on Chief Roach," Dorsey said, though he added that "only time will tell" how effective the FBI review is. 

In addition to IMPD's inquiry, the Marion County prosecutor's office also is investigating. 

FBI spokeswoman Chris Bavender said the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana will run a "parallel investigation" at the request of IMPD.

"The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner," she said in a Tuesday statement.

The FBI's civil division investigates use of excessive force and other alleged violations by law enforcement, as well as hate crimes and human trafficking, among other matters.