Lexington Police Department resists release of body camera footage from Stoner Cop drug bust

The Lexington Police Department says it will not honor an open records request seeking body worn camera video from the search of Ofc. Kyle Blankenship’s police cruiser on May 5, 2022. The search uncovered large amounts of drugs including heroin, marijuana, gabapentin, and hydrocodone separated into individual packages; scales; and other paraphernalia including syringes and even some pipes. Ofc. Blankenship is still on patrol as of September 27–his suspension begins early October 2022.

The Lexington Times requested these items pertaining to the investigation from the Lexington Police Department recently:

BWC from Lieutenants Richardson, Peterson, and Burnett doing the search

Our office recognizes this request is in regards to a formal complaint associated with Officer Kyle Blankenship. In an effort to provide transparency, the Lexington Police Department has long-established the release of documentation regarding formal complaints. Documentation associated with formal complaints which are open for public inspection include: the front page of the formal complaint (Form 111), the Agreement of Conformity (Form 113), Disciplinary Recommendation to Council (Form 123), the corresponding Personnel Order, and documentation reviewed by the head of our agency in determining final action.

All other documentation of administrative investigations regarding formal complaints is exempt from public inspection pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(i) which exempts:

“Preliminary drafts, notes, correspondence with private individuals, other than correspondence which is intended to give notice of final action of a public agency…”.

As stated in the documentation associated with this formal complaint, body worn camera video does exist regarding this incident. However, according to this documentation, the only materials reviewed by the Chief of Police was the PIU Case Summary. Associated body worn camera video was not reviewed by the Chief of Police. Accordingly, the body worn camera video associated with this incident is exempt from public inspection pursuant to the above-stated KRS 61.878(1)(i).

LPD Response

Photo of Ofc. Kyle Blankenship, Academy photo of Ofc. Kyle Blankenship

Regarding the portion of your request seeking photographs of Officer Kyle Blankenship: The release of such photographs would be considered an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and pose potential safety concerns. Therefore, photographs of Officer Kyle Blankenship are exempt from public inspection pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(a) which exempts:

“Public records containing information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy…”.

LPD Response

Our Take

Ofc. Blankenship appears to have committed the following violations:

Ofc. Kyle Blankenship

KRS 218A.1422 Possession of marijuana

(1) A person is guilty of possession of marijuana when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses marijuana

(2) Possession of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, except that, KRS Chapter 532 to the contrary notwithstanding, the maximum term of incarceration shall be no greater than forty-five (45) days.

KRS 218A.1415 Possession of controlled substance in first degree

(1) A person is guilty of possession of a controlled substance in the first degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses

(a) A controlled substance that is classified in Schedules I or II and is a narcotic drug;

(2) Possession of a controlled substance in the first degree is a Class D felony subject to the following provisions: 

(a) The maximum term of incarceration shall be no greater than three (3) years, notwithstanding KRS Chapter 532;

KRS 218A.500 Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

“Drug paraphernalia” means all equipment, products and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this chapter. 

Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Possible Trafficking Violations:

Additionally, due to the presence of scales that can be used to weigh out retail quantities of drugs (it is unknown how many or what type of scales Blankenship possessed), as well as individually packaged heroin in his vehicle, Ofc. Blankenship should be investigated for the following felonies:

Trafficking in controlled substance

Trafficking in marijuana

If Ofc. Blankenship is not indicted by a grand jury on the felonies, it is possible the FBI could also look into him, or the Lexington Police Department as a whole in a wider ranging investigation.

For now, however, it will be up to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (who is running for Governor) to decide if the public gets to see video of the search for themselves.