IMPD and Carl Brizzi and Government & Economic Development and Public Safety and Government

IMPD investigates Brizzi golf cart incident

May 17, 2010

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding an officer's injury at a 2008 fundraiser for Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

Detective Steven Buchanan, a member of Brizzi's security detail, wound up with a broken wrist and bruised knee after a golf cart carrying him and Brizzi flipped at the Ironwood Golf Club on Oct. 10, 2008.

Police reports filed at the time says Buchanan was behind the wheel at around 1 p.m. when "an unidentified white vehicle" backed out of a parking spot, causing him to swerve and flip the cart.

IMPD's internal affairs unit opened an investigation this month into whether the report accurately describes what happened that Friday afternoon after receiving tips suggesting it does not, said Public Safety Director Frank Straub. The key question is whether Brizzi was driving the cart when it flipped, and if so, why the report says otherwise.

The incident reports—filed by Sgt. Michael Thayer, another member of Brizzi's security detail—do not mention Brizzi.

The Republican prosecutor that day was hosting his fifth-annual "Putt with the Prosecutor" golf outing, which started at 8:30 a.m. and featured "St. Elmo shrimp cocktail on course" and a "Ruth's Chris Beverage Station," according to the event invitation. The outing at 10955 Fall Road in Fishers cost $250 per person.

Brizzi did not respond to requests for comment. Neither Buchanan nor Thayer could be reached.

Straub said he expects the investigation could wrap up as soon as this week.

"When we find out what happened or didn't happen, we'll proceed accordingly," he said.

The probe is another headache for Brizzi, who has drawn fire in recent months for his business dealings while in office including a real estate partnership with a defense attorney whose clients received favorable plea deals.

In a separate move, IMPD has cut back overtime hours allowed for members of Brizzi's security detail, one of the department's most prolific overtime producers. The move is part of a department-wide effort to rein in overtime, Straub said.

Officers working Brizzi's security detail from 2008 through March 2010 logged at least 2,465 overtime hours, according to IBJ's tabulation of hundreds of overtime vouchers. That adds up to about $100,000 in extra pay.

The officers, assigned to the Prosecutor's Office Grand Jury unit, drive Brizzi all day, including to the gym, the Prosecutor's Office and to evening functions.

New requests for overtime are being reviewed by Deputy Chief William Benjamin, who is looking at whether requested Grand Jury overtime hours are for Brizzi's security detail or for actual investigations, Straub said.

"My issue is making sure the taxpayers are getting the services they deserve for the expenditure of those hours," he said.

An overtime voucher for Buchanan, the officer who was injured after being thrown from the golf cart, shows he worked from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. that day, picking up five hours of overtime.

UPDATE: Brizzi told the Indianapolis Star for a story on May 18 that he was driving the golf cart when it flipped and had not seen the conflicting IMPD reports.

For more on the overtime issue, check out WXIN-TV Channel 59's online report at www.Fox59.com.

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