IMPD chief: Officer-involved shooting a 'true test' of relationship between police & community

INDIANAPOLIS -- With more questions than answers after an officer-involved shooting early Thursday morning, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Bryan Roach is promising an open and transparent investigation into exactly what happened.

It started at 1:45 a.m. when police pulled over a vehicle near the intersection of Burdsal Parkway and Riverside Drive.

Police say the driver, Aaron Bailey, fled from police during that stop and led them on a brief chase that ended when he crashed into a tree near the intersection of 23th Street and Aqueduct Street.

According to Chief Roach, the two officers then fired “multiple” rounds at the vehicle, hitting Bailey. He was taken to Eskenazi Hospital where he later died. No weapon was found inside the vehicle.

It is unclear at this time exactly why the officers fired their weapons, but Chief Roach says IMPD has extensive policy and training surrounding these types of incidents.

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“We have policy and training around that. It’s what a reasonable man would believe when his life or the life of someone else is threatened,” said Chief Roach. “We have to assume that was the mindset of those officers when they pulled the trigger.”

Because there were no cameras during the shooting, it’s possible the exact details of what happened that night will never be known and it will be some time before police will be able to answer some of the many questions that are concerning members of the community. 

Chief Roach says the incident will be a test of the relationship between the city’s police department and the people it serves.

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“This is an opportunity to increase the trust and legitimacy that the community has for us,” said Chief Roach. “Everybody’s watching. It’s a test to my ability to balance the needs of the police department and the officers and those of the community. At the end of the day, there will be a decision. Somebody may be unhappy with the decision. What I would hope is that they have faith in the investigation and how it played out. “

There is no timeframe for how long that investigation could take. An unrelated police shooting investigation from April 2016 is still on-going.

“I’ve always felt that Indianapolis is a great community and we’ve had good relationships. I know there have been times where those relationships have been strained. I hope in the last year and a half that we’ve been able to overcome any issues that might exist. I know there are members of the community that are always suspect of the police department and their perceptions are different than mine are. We have spent a lot of time in the community trying to grow those relationships so that when something happens like this, there is enough trust to have some open conversations and crucial conversations and let things play out process wise.”

The officers involved in the shooting are not required to make a public statement to the chief until their criminal investigation is over, but Chief Roach said he's committed to keeping the investigation process as open as transparent as possible. 

“My job is to make sure the community has faith and understanding in that process,” said Chief Roach. “It’s my commitment and always has been that I will do everything that I can to make sure that process is as open as possible and transparent.”

On July 3, the department released a video statement of its response to the incident. you can view the video below:

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