Crime Watch 8

Docs: Intoxicated lawmaker impersonated cop, fought with officers

Special prosecutor will be requested in Indiana state representative’s OWI case

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A state representative arrested Saturday night had been searching for places with “people selling drugs” and peddling “party favors,” according to witness statements in court documents released Wednesday.

State Rep. Dan Forestal, the assistant Democratic caucus chair and an Indianapolis firefighter, faces a count of impersonation of a public servant, resisting law enforcement and operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Online court records show Forestal’s lawyers were in court Wednesday as the charges were filed.

Authorities were sent just before 11:45 p.m. Saturday to East 21st Street and North Shadeland Avenue to investigate a report of a man impersonating a police officer, according to an incident report filed by Indianapolis police.

A court document released Wednesday says Forestal, 36, was found in a red Mercury trying to leave the parking lot of a hotel at the intersection. An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer approached and told Forestal to raise his hands. He instead put them in his lap, a common place for people to conceal firearms.

Next, two officers opened the vehicle door and tried to force Forestal to get out, but he grabbed the steering wheel. After a short struggle, the two officers gained control of Forestal and placed him on his stomach and into handcuffs. Forestal injured his elbow in the struggle, the court document said.

While in handcuffs, Forestal told officers multiple times he was going to sue them for “violating (his) civil rights,” the court document said.

“Mr. Forestal also identified himself as an Indianapolis firefighter, a state representative and the nephew of the Marion County Sheriff,” the court document said. “Mr. Forestal stated that due to his position in public safety and as a state representative, he would ‘have’ all of the officers’ badges.”

At least two officers observed a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” as Forestal spoke, the court document said. One of those two officers also observed he had red, glossy eyes and was swaying back and forth, struggling with his balance, as police read him Miranda rights. Forestal said he would not speak or comply with police until speaking with a lawyer.

Forestal refused to take a field sobriety test, which generally examines a person’s balance or eye movement.

Indiana observes an “implied consent” law concerning chemical tests. Anyone arrested on suspicion of drunk driving gives an implied agreement to submit to a chemical test. An officer advised Forestal of the law, but he refused a chemical test until he could speak to a lawyer, the document said.

Forestal requested he be taken to a hospital for his elbow injury. While in route to the hospital with medics, police got a warrant from a judge to have Forestal submit to a blood draw. As an officer approached Forestal at Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital to serve the warrant, the state lawmaker attempted to rip the warrant from the officer’s hand, the court document said.

Forestal had to be placed in additional restraints so a nurse could do the blood draw. The court document said the blood was entered into a system for analysis, but did not indicate if the analysis determined Forestal was intoxicated.

Meanwhile, another IMPD officer met with a man who had followed Forestal’s vehicle after he approached him and a woman outside their home, the court document said. They told police Forestal said, “I’m a legit officer doing a drug bust and today is the last day before the Feds descent and start kicking in doors.” The woman said Forestal also asked her to tell him where the “people selling drugs” lived and showed her a badge with a silver chain.

Police said Forestal was found in the Mercury with his Indianapolis Fire Department badge with a silver chain.

The IMPD officer who interviewed the man and woman also went to a tavern in the 7100 block of East Washington Street. A bartender told the officer that Forestal had been at the tavern earlier in the evening and “was telling patrons he was a firefighter and asking them where he could purchase ‘party favors’ such as cocaine,” the court document said.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s office said Wednesday it will file for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

“Daniel Forestal has made campaign contributions to Prosecutor (Terry) Curry, as well worked as campaign volunteer,” said a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office.

Forestal began serving in the the House of Representatives in 2013. He is the ranking minority member of the Roads and Transportation Committee and a member of the Elections and Apportionment, Financial Institutions, and Public Policy committees.

A representative and defense attorney for Forestal declined to comment Tuesday. The state lawmaker’s attorneys are James H. Voyles Jr. and Tyler D. Helmond, according to online records for Marion Superior Court, Criminal Division 9.

A House Democratic spokesperson on Tuesday declined to comment on Forestal’s arrest but confirmed to News 8 his biography on the caucus website had been updated earlier that day to show he is a private, not a lieutenant, with Indianapolis Fire Department.

Online jail records show Forestal bonded out of the Marion County Jail on Sunday.