Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers Michal Dinnsen and Carlton Howard were not criminally charged for the fatal shooting of unarmed motorist Aaron Bailey last year, after a special prosecutor investigated the case.
But the police department has been conducting an internal investigation to decide if Dinnsen and Howard will keep their jobs. With the first of several day-long hearings held Tuesday, the department is nearing its decision.
IMPD Deputy Chief Chris Bailey (no relation to Aaron Bailey) was the first to be called as a witness.
Bailey says he believes the officers panicked, and says it was "unreasonable" to fire their guns 11 times into the back of a vehicle without vision of the suspect's hands.
When city attorney Nabeela Virjee asked Bailey the key question, whether he believes the officers had sufficient reason to shoot, Bailey responded "No."
The incident occurred after Aaron Bailey remained uncooperative during a traffic stop, engaged in a high-speed car chase, and eventually hit a tree, according to police reports.
The officers’ attorney John Kautzman says after asking Bailey to exit his vehicle, the officers saw Bailey turn towards the center of his car and could only conclude he was reaching for a gun – the primary claim under scrutiny, in relation to the details of the incident.
At the beginning of Tuesday's hearing Kautzman motioned to dismiss the hearing altogether, claiming IMPD failed to follow proper procedure, and failed to remain neutral, while setting up their internal review system. The city refutes the claim, and the board says it will respond at a later time.
IMPD Chief Bryan Roach recommends the officers be fired. Members of the Police Merit Board will make that decision after a series of day-long hearings.