KSP: Charges still possible against Lexington cops in four of five 2022 police shootings
Lexington, Ky.–Legal counsel for the Kentucky State Police, who investigate police shootings in Kentucky, confirmed exclusively to the Lexington Times yesterday that criminal charges are still possible for Lexington Police Department officers in four of Lexington’s five 2022 police shooting incidents. Here are some details of those cases.
Case No. 12-22-0024 (February 5, 2022)
An officer allegedly fired his weapon in the proximity of four juveniles. One of the juveniles had allegedly fired a weapon at another officer, striking them in the ballistic vest. The incident occurred in the 1000 block of Newtown Pike.
No prosecutorial decision has been made on Officer Jacob Webster, who fired his weapon near the group of juveniles. Grand Jury proceedings are secret, but based on the description of the incident, he potentially could be charged with one charge of Wanton Endangerment – 1st Degree, a felony, for each time he fired his weapon. Former LPD officer Brent Hankinson was indicted on the same charge for his role in the killing of Breonna Taylor. (Hankinson was acquitted by a jury in that case.)
Case No. 12-22-0194 (September 1, 2022)
Two Lexington Police officers shot a driver in a parking lot on Jennifer Rd. The officers said they were responding to a call about an occupied stolen vehicle that allegedly contained a firearm. The driver of the vehicle did not comply with verbal commands from the officers. LPD claims, without providing evidence, the victim pointed a weapon at them before they fired.
No prosecutorial decision has been made on the involved officers. Neither LPD nor KSP have released their names either, which may be seen as an indicator that these officers are more likely to face charges than Officer Webster, whose name was released just six days after the shooting incident he was involved in.
If the Commonwealth’s Attorney makes the decision to prosecute, the grand jury would potentially consider charging them with Assault – 1st Degree, for shooting the driver. Additionally, for their role in endangering the lives of the Jennifer Rd residents, drivers, and any innocent people who were in the parking lot at the time, one count of Wanton Endangerment – 1st Degree could be considered for each time they fired their weapons. Both charges are felonies.
Case No. 12-22-0199 (September 8, 2022)
LPD officers shot and killed a man at the Extended Stay America on Tates Creek. Officers Samuel J. Taylor and Robert C. Gray were responding to a call of trespassing and “delayed assault”.
Joshua Hagans refused to answer the door when police arrived, but the officers “gained entry” to the room anyway. LPD claims, without providing evidence, that he fired at them. The officers fired their weapons and backed out of the room.
At some point, one officer was wounded. Official statements do not say who shot the officer. He was treated at the hospital and released the next day.
A negotiator was brought in, but almost six hours passed before Hagans received medical treatment. He died of his wounds. Questions have been raised about whether the cops acted too aggressively and if sufficient effort was made to reach Hagans’ family during the negotiations.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney has not made a prosecutorial decision against the two LPD officers, Officer Samuel J. Taylor and Officer Robert C. Gray. The criminal liability they face for their role in Hagans’ death would depend upon the evidence presented to a Grand Jury.
Case No. 12-22-0216 (September 28, 2022)
Officers located a vehicle in a parking lot near Deja Vu Showgirls on West New Circle Road suspected to be involved in a robbery. Cops say they saw a Draco in the “front passenger compartment” as they approached. When the driver allegedly reached for the weapon, cops say an officer tried to reach into the front passenger window to stop him. That’s when the victim began to drive away with the officer still inside, according to the arrest citation.
The other cops began firing at the vehicle. Both the officer inside the vehicle and the victim sustained gunshot wounds. The officer inside was flung from the car. No bystanders were hit in the crossfire.
The cops claim the victim drove his vehicle “directly” towards an officer, but have not released evidence to support that claim.
According to court documents, the victim was treated at UK Chandler Hospital. He was released on a personal recognizance bond on Oct. 27 and placed on home incarceration and electronic monitoring. He needed physical therapy and was planning to go to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Center, but they would not accept a patient in police custody. His family then took him to physical therapy in Cincinnati.
As with the Jennifer Road shooting, neither KSP nor LPD has released the names of the officers involved. The Commonwealth’s Attorney has not made a prosecutorial decision in the case, but if she chooses to pursue charges, a Grand Jury would likely consider charges of Assault – 1st Degree and one count of Wanton Endangerment – 1st Degree for each time the officers fired their weapons. It is unclear if the charges would be enhanced because their actions endangered the life of a peace officer.
Kentucky State Police Letter
In a response to a Lexington Times request for “investigative reports, audio and/or video recordings (such as body cam footage), documents, and other records known by the agency to exist that pertain to KSP’s investigation of officer-involved shootings by the Lexington Police Department in 2022,” KSP agreed to release all records related to a fatal March 27, 2022 police shooting, but said they needed more time to compile the records.
KSP denied release of the full investigative files for the other four 2022 police shootings. Agencies must give a specific reason for denying the release. A notable portion of the response asserted that the Commonwealth’s Attorney could still file charges against the officers, so releasing the records right now could create “bias in the jury pool from which the Grand Jury will be selected”.
Premature disclosure of records generated in the course of these investigations, for which prosecution has not been declined yet, would cause irreparable harm, including but not limited to, creating bias in the jury pool from which the Grand Jury will be selected if the Commonwealth’s Attorney decides to prosecute these matters.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney has not yet prosecuted these cases or declined to prosecute these cases. If the Commonwealth’s Attorney declines prosecution, the records that you have requested will be subject to disclosure upon request following the necessary review and redaction process.KSP letter denying full release of 2022 Lexington Police shooting records
According to LPD, officers were wearing body cameras in all the incidents. That footage has not been released to the public.
The Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney is Kimberly Henderson Baird, who was appointed by Governor Andy Beshear in 2022. Baird took office just three days after the most recent Lexington police shooting.
KSP did release partial reports on the four shootings reviewed here. You can read or download them below.
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