The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office denied The Bloomingtonian’s request for body cam footage from a high-speed pursuit of a 39-year-old man in April that ended in a fiery car crash. According to the Monroe County Coroner’s Office and an incident report obtained by The Bloomingtonian, Malik Ali Malik died of “hypoxia due to a flash fire” and sustained severe burns all over his body after his car hit a tree on W. Dinsmore Rd. Officers verbally commanded Malik to exit the vehicle but did not aid him out of concern for their own safety, according to an incident report from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office obtained by a public records request.
The Bloomingtonian spoke to a witness who wishes to remain anonymous out of fear for their safety. They said they offered their fire extinguisher to put out the vehicle fire, but officers told them to go back into their home. The witness said members of law enforcement had their guns drawn as the car burned. The Bloomingtonian is unable to independently verify these allegations and sought body and dash cam videos to accurately report on this incident.
The accident report indicates that Malik was trapped inside the burning vehicle, but the report does not specify how he was trapped.
Around 8:51 p.m., April 17th a deputy reported in a radio dispatch the car was on fire. At around 8:54 p.m. a deputy said, “We attempted to get him out but the fire is too big.” Then around 8:56 p.m. a member of the Monroe County Sheriff’s office reported that the vehicle had exploded.
The footage was formally requested April 19th through a public records request. On Wednesday, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office released a redacted crash report, and crash scene photos, but cited Indiana Code IC-5-14-3-4(b)(1) as the reason for withholding the “investigatory records of this law agency.”
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office began the pursuit of Malik Malik, a Black male, on the evening of April 17, 2021 in Bloomington, Indiana. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department terminated the pursuit because Malik was driving as fast as 105 miles per hour in a residential area. A sheriff’s deputy can be heard on radio traffic saying, “We know who it is, so we’re not going to get somebody killed.”
Malik continued to drive at a high speed and another deputy began to pursue him again. Soon after, a MCSO deputy reported that Malik had crashed and the vehicle was on fire, according to scanner traffic.
The Bloomingtonian first reached out by e-mail to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office for more information about the accident in the early hours of April 18, but did not get a response. The Bloomingtonian then left a phone message at the sheriff’s office asking to be included on the distribution of a press release about the incident. No press release was distributed, and the MCSO remained silent about the incident. It should be noted, the Bloomington Police Department was not at the scene of the crash and did not help with the investigation.
The next day, the Bloomingtonian went to the scene of the crash where friends and family held a memorial. After several conversations with witnesses, who wished to remain anonymous, it became clear that viewing dash cam and body cam footage might show information about what had occurred.
A search of court records shows that Malik was facing charges of robbery and drug possession but his bond was revoked when he fled from law enforcement in Johnson County on March 7, 2021.
The crash report released Wednesday indicates that Malik was pursued after a “SUSP ACT IP” (suspicious act in progress), and was driving a white 2021 KIA Sportage on April 17th. The report states $8,012 in US currency was taken as evidence, along with “5 bags of plant material.” The report does not specify what suspicious act had occurred before the pursuit but refers to law incidents M21-10558 and B-21-12465. Neither incident shows up on MyCase, and The Bloomingtonian has reached out to the prosecutor’s office to attempt to obtain the documents.
The crash report states the type of crash was, “RAN OFF ROAD.”
The narrative of the crash reads as follows:
“ON APRIL 18TH, 2021 DEPUTIES WITH THE MONROE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE WERE LOOKING OUT FOR A WANTED INDIVIDUAL. THE MALE WAS LOCATED AND A TRAFFIC STOP WAS ATTEMPTED. THE MALE WHO WAS IDENTIFIED AS A MR. MALIK MALIK, BEGAN TO FLEE DEPUTIES. AFTER MALIK BEGAN TO DRIVE ERRATICALLY, I TERMINATED THE PERSUIT (SIC) FOR SAFETY REASONS.
SHORTLY AFTER TERMINATION, ANOTHER DEPUTY FROM THE MONROE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE THEN LOCATED MALIK STILL DRIVING AT HIGH SPEEDS WEST OF TOWN NEAR WEST STATE RAOD (SIC) 45. THE PERSUIT (SIC) WAS THEN RE-INITIATED AND CONTINUED WEST ON SR 45 UNTIL THEY REACHED WEST DINSMORE RD. MALIK THEN TURNED ONTO DINSMORE RD AT A HIGH RATE OF SPEED AND LOST CONTROL. AFTER LEAVING THE ROADWAY ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF DINSMORE RD MOMENTARILY, MALIK THEN RETURNED TO THE ROADWAY ONLY TO LEAVE THE ROADWAY ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE ROAD AND STRIKING A TREE. THE VEHICLE IMMEDIATELY CAUGHT ON FIRE AND THE DRIVER NEVER RESPONDED TO VERBAL COMMANDS AND NEVER MOVED.
DEPUTIES THEN ATTEMPTED TO APPROACH THE VEHICLE BUT DUE TO THE SAFETY CONCERNS OF MALIK AS WELL AS THE SAFETY CONCERNS OF THE VEHICLE FIRE, DEPUTIES THEN BACKED OFF AND CONTINUED VERBAL COMMANDS TO MALIK. MALIK WAS NEVER ABLE TO LEAVE THE VEHICLE. FIRE WAS THEN CALLED TO SCENE AND EXTINGUISHED THE FIRE.
MALIK WAS LATER LOCATED IN THE VEHICLE AND PRONOUNCED DECEASED ON SCENE. A CRASH RECONSTRUCTIONIST WAS CONTACTED AND ARRIVED ON SCENE.
FOR THE FULL CASE, PLEASE CONTACT MONROE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE RECORDS DIVISION FOR THE ENTIRE CASE.”
Monroe County Coroner Joani Shields was contacted Thursday, June 17, 2021 for the cause of death, which was “Hypoxia due to flash fire.” Shields said the manner of death is, “accident.”
Several minutes pass in radio dispatches from the time the car is reported to have crashed, to when a fire department is called, until the car explodes. The radio dispatches were obtained on OpenMHZ.com, which uses software defined radio receivers to tune into emergency frequencies, and then records them to a computer server where the public can openly access them.
CORRECTION – The Monroe County Coroner Joani Shields contacted the Bloomingtonian Sunday, June 20, 2021 to correct the lead in this story. Malik died of “hypoxia due to a flash fire” not smoke inhalation. Shields explained the difference, “These two types of death are totally different from each other. Hypoxia from a flash fire is when there is an explosion of intense heat/fire that literally sucks the oxygen out of the body. It is a much quicker death than smoke inhalation,” said Shields.
CORRECTION – Bloomington Police Capt. Ryan Pedigo told The Bloomingtonian members of the BPD were never involved in the high-speed chase of Malik.