INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A former top official at the Department of Public Safety has spoken out for the first time -- expressing new concerns with IMPD.
Ellen Corcella was the No. 2 within public safety -- having crucial access to internal investigations and the David Bisard case.
I-Team 8's Karen Hensel broke the exclusive investigation on Tuesday. Corcella is suing the city after being fired.
Corcella spent 10 years as a federal prosecutor in New York, taking on mobsters, appearing on 60 Minutes to talk about it. She was a civilian woman with the background to take on trouble within IMPD.
Corcella describes herself as an internal whistleblower. Her job: bring integrity to how the department investigated allegations of misconduct.
"What I saw inside that department was nowhere near an ethical, objective department," she says.
As chief of Professional Standards, Corcella first hit the spotlight with the Bisard report on potential mishandling of evidence including a second vial of blood left un-refrigerated.
"When you lack protocols and you lack procedures that are known, that are followed and that are documented, something like this can happen," she said.
She found there was not a system within IMPD.
"There is no system. There are no standards when handling evidence. There is no step-by-step procedure from where you put it in to how you take it out. It's made up," she said.
Corcella says Prosecutor Terry Curry thinks she and a detective mishandled evidence when they checked the second vial.
"What people refer to as Vial two -- there was a property receipt listing it as vial one," she said.
She says they wanted to make sure the vial was actually in the package.
"What has never been put in public view is there are literally dozens of photographs of the handling of that evidence," she said. She says there were 65 photographs.
A detective recently dropped a bombshell in court testifying about secret recordings of Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson.
When asked if she secretly recorded conversations with the prosecutor, she said she didn't.
"I did not secretly record conversations with the prosecutor. I had been informed by the detectives they had made a call to the prosecutor, they had her on the phone and they asked if I wanted to come up to their offices. I did. When I came in one of the detectives pulled out a recording machine -- I didn't say stop. But I didn't tell them to do it either. And they recorded the conversation. It's not illegal to record a conversation," Corcella said.
Corcella says she met with "repeated resistance" from internal affairs when she asked for a list of cases.
"It took them months to give me a list," she said. "They didn't have a list. There were 30 files just sitting on chairs and book cases."
She whittled the two year backlog down and put a timeline that all needed to be investigated within 60 days.
She says there was a huge backlog of cases against officers, including officers using the C word to describe females and porn shown to subordinates.
"There is rank sexual harassment that goes on," she says. "No punishment comes of it. There is, I believe, repeated instances of improper use of force. Nobody is ever found to be in violation of the rules and regulations."
Even more concerning are the cases themselves.
"He would go through a list of prostitutes that had been arrested," Corcella said, describing one of the cases. "Then it was easy for him since he was assigned near one of these areas to go back out and ask a prostitute to do him favors in exchange for him taking care of the ticket or the summons."
She warned IMPD they were at risk of serious exposure, especially with the Department of Justice. DOJ was reviewing departments around the country if they were fair and unbiased in claims of police brutality.
Corcella says Public Safety Director Troy Riggs turned her into "an overpaid administrative assistant." Now, she's planning to sue the city for unlawful firing, among her allegations that the prosecutor tried to "inject" himself in her independent report.
Corcella says Curry tried to influence or tell her what to say in an investigative report.
But Curry says he doesn't recall asking anything to be removed because it wasn't particularly accurate and he would have ultimately prepared an addendum.
I-Team 8 has seen a copy of the addendum -- an e-mail sent from Curry to the mayors' chief of staff. It's five pages with 20 points.
Corcella says Curry through sources initially asked "certain paragraphs of facts be eliminated from the original draft. Those facts had to do with what date the Prosecutor's Office knew or did not know."
She says she was stripped of her authority and eventually fired for what she calls "tone in an email" when asking for her job description.
That email? She recalls, "Please all I want is a copy or statement of my job description. It wasn't in caps or anything." The day she went to humane resources to get a copy of her job description, she was fired.
I-Team 8 asked the city, IMPD and Department of Public Safety to comment. All declined because of the pending lawsuit.
Corcella says none of the internal affairs cases had been disciplined when she left.
Corcella is now a full time student at Christian Theological Seminary and says she stepped forward now because as an internal whistleblower she is not disgruntled — she just wanted to set the record straight.
The city has not addressed whether her position in public safety has been filled with another civilian to oversee or if officers now oversee internal affairs.
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