INDIANAPOLIS -- In emotional testimony Thursday morning, IMPD Officer Michael Dinnsen recounted the moment when he and a fellow officer fatally shot Aaron Bailey following a brief pursuit in June 2016.
Dinnsen, who told the IMPD Merit Board that he has spent his whole life in Indianapolis, is facing a recommendation of termination from Chief Bryan Roach over the incident, despite a special prosecutor’s decision not to charge him and fellow Officer Carlton Howard.
Howard was called to testify Wednesday. Dinnsen’s testimony recounted the same events – but proved to be more difficult for him to relive.
After Bailey fled from a traffic stop for unknown reasons, officers Howard and Dinnsen pursued him for a short distance, until he crashed into a tree.
At that point, Dinnsen said, he jumped out of his car and moved to back up Howard.
“I left my vehicle and drew my weapon,” Dinnsen said. “My initial thought was that I was going to move up to Officer Howard’s passenger door and use that as cover, knowing that other officers were coming.
“I realized, ‘This is a bad decision. I should not have come out here. I’m not going to be able to find cover. So I begin to move back toward my vehicle.”
Echoing Howard’s testimony, Dinnsen said he saw Bailey begin “digging” for something in his car’s center console. Both officers have said repeatedly under oath that they believed Bailey was looking for a gun.
“I see Mr. Bailey reach over to the console. I see him lift the console lid up. After he got that lid open, he began to frantically search in the console,” Dinnsen said. “I believed he was going to shoot Officer Howard. So I shot the back of the car. I saw my rounds hit a little low. Thinking about it afterwards, I realized I was looking over my gun. When the rear windshield broke I couldn’t see him anymore, so I stopped shooting.”
Two other officers arrived a short time later. Dinnsen said when he went to secure the vehicle, he saw that Bailey had a bullet wound in his back, and that he wasn’t breathing.
The passenger in Bailey’s vehicle, Shiwanda Ward, was not harmed.
Members of the merit board – chaired by former Indianapolis public safety director Dr. David Wantz – were expected to render their decision Thursday after all testimony was complete. If the board agrees with Roach’s termination recommendation, the officers will have 30 days to appeal the decision.
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