New Lawsuit Alleges Unlawful Search By Scandal-Ridden LMPD Officers Saturday, May 29 2021 

Louisville Metro Police officers are accused of violating a Louisville woman’s constitutional rights and police policy when they executed a midnight raid in May 2019 over a drug investigation into her then-boyfriend, according to a lawsuit filed this week in Jefferson Circuit Court.

The officers searched Keesha Boyd’s home, detaining her children and destroying her furniture before seizing more than $30,000 in cash, her attorney claims in the court filing.

Boyd wasn’t charged with a crime in connection with the search. Her attorneys allege that the search was unlawful, and the warrant was based on false information. The suit, filed against nine LMPD officers, alleges they unlawfully broke into Boyd’s home and took her property and seeks punitive damages.

The circumstances of the case bear striking similarities to the investigation and subsequent raid that resulted in the police killing of Breonna Taylor — including some of the officers involved.

Former LMPD officers (L-R) Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, and former officers Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison were among the 16 officers that executed warrants at the homes of Keesha Boyd and her then-boyfriend Anthony Bonner, according to court records and police documents.

The warrants were based on claims provided by a confidential informant — and obtained by narcotics detective Brian Bailey, who is currently on administrative reassignment pending an investigation into allegations in three lawsuits that he sexually abused multiple women whom he forced to work as confidential informants. 

LMPD

LMPD Detective Brian Bailey

“The police officers had absolutely no reason to be there, legal or otherwise,” attorney Patrick C.M. Hoerter said in a statement. “Their actions constitute a violation of her clearly established rights. We believe the warrant was issued based on false information provided by a confidential informant who was coerced by Bailey. Keesha is one of the many victims in this community of Brian Bailey’s illegal warrants and illegal forfeiture practices.” 

Boyd declined to comment for this report. Bonner could not be reached. A spokesperson for LMPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The warrants obtained by Bailey for Boyd and Bonner’s homes are nearly identical.

Attorneys have criticized Bailey’s use of confidential informants and accused him in court of relying on “boilerplate” affidavits and, in some cases, making up information.

He was also the subject of a recent investigation by KyCIR and WDRB News that found he obtained more residential search warrants than any other LMPD officer between January 2019 and June 2020. All but one of the warrants reviewed by KyCIR and WDRB was based, at least in part, on the word of confidential informants.

(Related: LMPD Cleared Top Warrant Detective Of Sexual Misconduct. Then, More Women Came Forward)

In seeking the search warrant for Boyd’s house, Bailey said in an affidavit that Bonner would “come and go” from her house, “and on multiple occasions staying for hours or spending the night.” Bailey also alleged that a confidential informant had purchased heroin from Bonner at Boyd’s house, though he didn’t present any evidence of a controlled buy, what experts consider best practice for drug cases involving informants. 

Bailey offered no evidence that Boyd, herself, was involved in criminal activity.

“It is common for drug traffickers to have two separate locations for drugs and money to avoid law enforcement detection,” Bailey wrote in his affidavit, which was signed by Jefferson District Judge Jessica A. Moore about seven hours before police burst into Boyd’s home with a battering ram as she slept, according to the lawsuit. 

Inside Boyd’s home, police found the money, three guns, and less than an eighth of an ounce of marijuana, according to court documents and police records.

As Mattingly and seven other officers searched Boyd’s house in Shively, Hankison, Bailey and Cosgrove were among the eight officers searching Bonner’s home about four miles away in Parkland.

There, with a no-knock warrant, they found more money, a few guns, and an array of drugs.

Bonner was charged with multiple drug trafficking crimes and pled guilty in November 2020 to amended charges in a one-year felony diversion agreement. A day later, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Susan Schultz Gibson approved the LMPD’s seizure that totaled more than $46,000 in cash.

Boyd claims the $30,000 seized from her house has no connection to drug dealing.

This story follows reporting done in a collaboration between KyCIR and WDRB News.

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What’s Under Scrutiny In LMPD Investigation? Basically Everything Friday, May 21 2021 

Federal investigators are collecting a catalogue of internal documents and records that would detail virtually every recorded interaction between Louisville Metro Police officers and citizens as they set the stage for a deep examination of the beleaguered agency.  

The day after U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland announced the investigation last month, attorneys with the United States Department of Justice and the local United States Attorney’s Office asked the city for particulars about police databases and files that detail when officers stop and search residents, when they use force, disciplinary measures and policy documents — including those “not presently made available to the public,” according to documents obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting through an open records request. 

Investigators will be examining union contracts, agreements with other government agencies and behavioral health providers, organizational charts, employee rosters, pay scales, training documents, and detailed descriptions of each division and specialized unit within the department, according to the DOJ’s request.

They also asked for a list of all paper documents and recordings “typically stored” at LMPD.

The request by the Department of Justice last month is an indication of how quickly the agency’s civil rights investigation into LMPD began, and shows just how deep investigators will look to assess whether the agency has a pattern or practice of civil rights violations in policing.

As a recipient of federal funding, LMPD is required to provide records to the Department of Justice. In a letter dated April 27, investigators made 19 specific requests for information. City officials have provided responses to 13 of the requests, adhering to a May 11 deadline set by the federal investigators, according to a spokesperson for Jefferson County Mike O’Connell. The remaining six troves of records will be due to federal investigators next week, according to the DOJ’s request.

The wide scope of the request is typical of a Department of Justice pattern and practice investigation, which are known for scrutinizing police departments at an organizational level, said Samuel Walker, emeritus professor at University of Nebraska Omaha’s school of criminology and criminal justice. Walker who has studied DOJ investigations and reviewed the DOJ request to Louisville officials on KyCIR’s behalf.

“They don’t do piecemeal reform,” he said.

The investigation seeks to determine if the police department engages in a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing that violates the Constitution or federal law, particularly in how it executes search warrants, uses force and polices protests. The investigation comes in the wake of a flurry of scandals and controversies stemming from LMPD, including the police killing of Breonna Taylor and the months of protests that followed.

Investigators will look beyond the actions of individual officers to pinpoint the system that perpetuates harmful, dangerous, and bad policing, Walker said. The records obtained by federal investigators will show how officers are trained, and how they’re expected to interact with the public and respond to a range of situations — from protests, to emergencies and critical calls for help.

“They’re focused on, ‘Where are the failures,’” he said. “Inadequate policies, inadequate supervision and discipline.”

In fact, in previous similar investigations of police departments conducted by the Department of Justice officers have been key sources of information that can help pinpoint problematic policies and other departmental shortcomings by giving interviews with investigators and taking investigators on ride-alongs during patrol shifts, said Walker.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who oversaw the police department that made more than 800 arrests during the protests last year, said the investigation is “an opportunity and a privilege.” 

Spokespeople for the mayor’s office and LMPD did not immediately respond to questions about the records provided.

Officers, Citizens Both Sought As Sources

Some local activists and politicians are cautiously optimistic about the federal investigation, noting that its outcome will depend on how thorough investigators are in their examination of the department. 

Metro Councilman Jecorey Arthur, who represents the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods, said it’s clear that LMPD needs serious intervention and reform — for proof he pointed to a recent audit of the agency that found it was a department “in crisis.”

As part of their request to the city for records, federal investigators are also seeking any documents obtained by the private firm that conducted that audit.

Arthur said community engagement, and how the investigators respond to the community and shares findings with the community, is critical for getting a full understanding of how LMPD operates in the city and what needs to change.

“We know there are problems,” he said. “We want transparency out of this investigation.”

Federal investigators, however, made it clear in their request for records that certain information obtained in the course of the investigation will be kept confidential and excluded from public release, including names of individual officers or other witnesses or anything not used to support investigative findings.

Days after the investigation was announced, a team of investigators met with community members, including Arthur, for an introductory discussion.

Shameka Parrish-Wright, a local activist and mayoral candidate, also participated in the meeting. She said it “shows something is happening” and is a reason for people to have some hope that changes will come to how police operate in Louisville.

Investigators have also been in contact with the local police union, according to Dave Mutchler, the union’s spokesperson.

Mutchler said the investigators want to use the union as a “conduit” to encourage officers to speak openly about the department and how it operates.

“They’re not really focusing in on any individuals right now,” he said. “They want to see how this department operates, what we do, what our policies and procedures are, and how they dictate how we deal with the public.” 

Mutchler said the investigation is still getting started, and because of that the union has yet to take a stance on if they “like or dislike how it’s going, yet.”

“So far, it just is what it is.”

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Amid Calls For Transparency, City Agreed To Closed FOP Negotiations Thursday, Mar 25 2021 

In early February, Celine Mutuyemariya decided she’d waited long enough. 

She’d been calling and emailing Mayor Greg Fischer’s office for months about the 490 Project’s push to get community observers in the room while the city and union negotiated the new five-year police contract. She never heard back. So when she saw Fischer in the front row of a community forum she was attending, she took her opportunity. 

“We have a petition with over 1,300 people who want to have access to the police negotiations,” she said into the microphone. “All we want to do is to witness how these negotiations function because you said that contract prevented you from getting justice for Breonna Taylor.” 

Mutuyemariya spoke directly to Fischer, saying he could just decide to allow community observers in the room if he wanted to.

“Well, not really,” Fischer said. “Because there’s an agreement between what the FOP will allow and what the city will allow.”

Eleanor Klibanoff

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer speaks to a community group in February.

The ground rules do say that all negotiation sessions shall be closed to the press and public and that neither party will talk to the media about the negotiations until they’re over. 

But those ground rules were signed on the first day of negotiations: January 21, 2021, just two weeks before this confrontation and months into widespread calls for greater transparency from city government and the Louisville Metro Police Department. 

Organizers with the 490 Project, a Louisville activist group, provided documentation of emails and phone calls to the mayor’s office asking for community representation as early as October. They say they are incredibly disappointed that the city agreed to these terms months after hearing, and ignoring, that call.

“The city agreed to these ground rules that basically encourage opacity, even as they’re saying, again, publicly that they want transparency,” said Rachel Hardy, an organizer with the 490 Project. “Obviously, in our opinion, both of those things can’t be true.”

River City Fraternal Order of Police press secretary Dave Mutchler declined to comment, citing the ground rules that prevent discussing negotiations with the media. City spokesperson Jean Porter said in a statement that the city had some concerns about how these proposals might extend the process or impact the city’s other collective bargaining agreements. 

“It’s our hope that we can have informed conversations about how we can achieve more transparency, within the confines of existing laws, while adhering to our No. 1 goal, which is to reach an agreement between [Louisville Metro Government] and the FOP that meets the needs of both the police and the community they serve,” she wrote. 

[/media-credit] Screengrab from the ground rules governing FOP contract negotiations

City officials met with the 490 Project twice after that confrontation at the forum; KyCIR has reviewed audio recordings of those meetings. In the first meeting on March 9th, representatives from the mayor’s office said they would look into the legality of adding community observers and whether they could renegotiate the ground rules. 

Metro Government General Counsel Annale Taylor emailed the group a few days later and said that the negotiation team had “broached the general topic of opening up the negotiations with the FOP negotiation team.”

“We are still researching and reviewing similar models used in other cities so that we can develop a specific and detailed proposal to present to the FOP,” she wrote.

In the second meeting on March 19, Deputy Mayor Ellen Hesen told the 490 Project that negotiations would continue without community observers for now. 

“The next time [the FOP and the city] get together next month is going to be way too soon to have this resolved,” she said. “It’s kind of like turning around a cruise ship in a pond. It’s gonna take a little bit. It’s not like flipping a switch.”

Contract Negotiations Ongoing

National protests this summer have dragged police union contracts into the spotlight. In Louisville, Fischer has pointed to the union contract’s due process provisions as one reason he could not discipline or fire the officers involved in the Taylor shooting as swiftly as protesters wanted.  

The 490 Project and other community organizers argue that bringing the public into the negotiations, even as a silent observer, would help rebuild trust and hold both the union and elected leaders accountable. 

“For so many years, the police union has basically been able to operate with pretty much complete impunity and essentially just have undue influence,” said Hardy. “A lot of it is because people don’t understand the process and there’s no sunlight on the negotiations. There is no oversight.”

The last collective bargaining agreement with the FOP expired in June 2018, and was extended repeatedly as the two sides negotiated. This fall, after months of protests over LMPD officers killing Breonna Taylor, the city and the FOP agreed to a short-term contract to run through June 30th. 

Metro Council approved the contract by a 16-10 vote as protesters stood outside the building, demanding they vote it down. Some Council members have said they will not approve a future contract that doesn’t include significant changes to provisions that limit officer discipline and accountability. 

The short-term contract contained pay raises and new health care benefits, as well as some of the reforms included in the settlement with Breonna Taylor’s family. The city would negotiate other aspects of that settlement in this upcoming contract, a spokesperson for the Mayor told WFPL News at the time. 

Ayesha Bell Hardaway, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, studies the history and influence of police unions. She says the secrecy around these negotiations has contributed to the growing power of police unions, often without much notice from the community. 

“Without a public window into these negotiations, this is a part of how we ended up in this space,” she said. “If the aim of local government is to improve relationships with communities, they should be open to figuring out new and different ways to ensure those communities feel heard.” 

The 490 Project has offered two proposals to add community oversight to Louisville’s negotiations with the FOP. The first would require changing the ground rules, to add three community members as silent observers to the process, who could then report back to the wider community about the ongoing discussions. 

City officials said one major concern with this idea is quickly deciding who the community representatives would be, since many groups are pushing to be at the table. 

The second proposal would not require changing the ground rules: they’ve asked the city to put community members on the negotiating team directly. 

Hardaway said that’s a “creative” idea.

“What a message that would be sent by those in Louisville that have indicated that they are interested in reform, interested in repairing the relationships with communities that have been negatively impacted by police violence, to say we want everyone at the table,” she said.

In the meeting, Hesen rejected this idea.

“That sounds like a nice theory,” she said. “But you know, when we’re looking at multi-year contracts, and multiple millions of dollars, we certainly need people from Metro HR, Metro Finance and from the agencies…at the table. So I don’t think we can substitute” community members, she said. 

Nothing in the ground rules specifies the number of people on the negotiating team. On the call, Hesen said the team ranged from three to 15 people depending on what specific provisions were being negotiated. 

Public sector union contracts are governed by city ordinance and state law. In one of the calls with the 490 Project, a city lawyer raised a legal concern around the state’s Open Meetings Act, which exempts collective bargaining negotiations between public employers and their employees or their representative. 

The 490 Project argues that allows them to close the meeting, but does not forbid opening it to the public. 

Urgent Action Needed, Activists Say

Chief of Community Building Vincent James told the group he would respond to their proposals by March 30th.

But the organizers behind the 490 Project say that, after waiting months to hear from the city, anything other than urgent action is insufficient. 

“If they’re not willing to do something essentially in the next month, if they’re not ready to make dramatic change now, they are kicking the can down the road five, six, seven, even maybe eight years, depending on how long this next contract gets extended,” said Hardy. “That’s pushing it off on to the next generation of politicians and potentially, organizers.”

Metro Council President David James, a former FOP president and current mayoral candidate, expressed concerns about the legality of adding community observers. But he said he would encourage Fischer to find other ways to solicit community feedback prior to the contract being finalized. 

He also took issue with Fischer’s claim at that meeting in February that the community has oversight of the process through the Metro Council, which isn’t involved. 

“The Mayor does negotiations for the contract. The Metro Council does not negotiate with the FOP, or the mayor, about the contract. It’s a done deal by the time it gets to the council,” he said. 

The FOP has tried to cut Metro Council out of the process altogether. In November, the FOP filed a lawsuit arguing that contracts do not need Metro Council approval to become valid. County Attorney Michael O’Connell’s office issued a finding disagreeing with that assertion. That lawsuit is still pending. 

Other Cities Added Community Voices

If Louisville added community observers, it would not be the first city to do so. 

In 2017, the Austin Justice Coalition pushed the city council to vote down a contract that they didn’t agree with, and bring community members to the table for the next round of negotiations. The contract the city eventually signed included raises for officers and increased accountability measures. One city council member called it “the most forward-thinking contract in the nation.”

The City of Portland and its police union agreed to ground rules that allow silent observers at alternating negotiation sessions. The city and the union issue joint press releases after each session to keep the public informed.  

This summer, Philadelphia passed an ordinance requiring public hearings ahead of police union negotiations. The union sued the city, claiming the ordinance violated their collective bargaining rights and state law. 

Hardaway, the law professor, said no union contract will ever please everyone. But when city officials work to make the process as understandable and open as possible, it goes a long way. 

“We certainly can get to a place where we feel that we have been heard and the government is doing what is best under the circumstances,” she said. “I think there is value in a willingness to say, ‘Without public understanding and education and an opportunity for meaningful input into these processes, I’m not doing my job as an elected and appointed official.’” 

Correction: The FOP and city agree neither party will talk to the media about contract negotiations until they’re over. The agreement was misstated in a previous version.

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Brief: LMPD makes arrest on campus Friday, Feb 19 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The Louisville Metro Police Department made an arrest after an incident on Fourth Street between Brandeis Avenue and Cardinal Boulevard on February 19.

University of Louisville Police Department Chief Gary Lewis said ULPD was on the scene assisting LMPD with the situation.  “Today, the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) contacted our agency and advised that they were in pursuit of a vehicle on Fourth Street and the suspect later stopped, then was barricaded inside the car just south of Cardinal Boulevard,” Lewis said. “ULPD responded to assist in setting up traffic control and a perimeter.”

Students received a RAVE alert at 11:54 A.M. informing students to avoid the area. A second RAVE alert was issued and 12:40  P.M. with an update that the issue had been resolved.

“After approx. 45 minutes, the suspect exited the vehicle without incident and LMPD took custody. The scene was cleared and a subsequent UofL Safety Update was sent to the campus community notifying students that they could return to this area on campus,” Lewis said.

The Louisville Cardinal reached out to the LMPD for information regarding this incident but has not received a reply at the time of publishing this article.

We will update this story with more information as we learn more.

Photo by Sean Willis

The post Brief: LMPD makes arrest on campus appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

LMPD’s Top Warrant Cop Accused Of Sexual Abuse, Questionable Tactics Thursday, Feb 4 2021 

In June 2018, Louisville Metro Police Detective Brian Bailey asked a judge for a warrant to search a house in the Portland neighborhood.

Bailey told the judge he expected to find large amounts of illegal pills, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The only evidence he had was a confidential informant who had told him a drug dealer lived at the house with his grandmother, girlfriend and children; the informant said they’d seen drugs at the house in the last 48 hours. And Bailey told the judge he’d personally seen a man matching the suspect’s description coming and going, according to the affidavit. 

The warrant was granted, and later that day, Bailey and a team of officers busted down the door with a battering ram. Instead of a drug dealer and large quantities of marijuana, they found four kids, a baggie of weed and the president of a group that throws LMPD an annual Christmas party. 

This was just one of dozens of warrants Brian Bailey has obtained, most of which started with confidential informants and some of which ended without arrests. In fact, Bailey obtained more residential search warrants than any other LMPD officer between January 2019 and June 2020, according to an analysis by KyCIR and WDRB of all 472 publicly available warrants from that period. He obtained more search warrants than the next two officers combined. 

Attorneys have raised flags about Bailey’s use of confidential informants, accusing him in court of relying on “boilerplate” affidavits and, in some cases, making up information. 

All but one of the warrants reviewed by KyCIR and WDRB was based, at least in part, on the word of confidential informants.

Two of his confidential informants accused Bailey in a lawsuit of coercing them into becoming informants, and sexually assaulting them for years. 

Bailey is on administrative reassignment pending an investigation. He has not been criminally charged. Bailey’s attorney, James McKiernan, and an LMPD spokesperson declined comment. 

Bailey’s warrants often don’t yield anything. A review of court records show at least 10 didn’t result in arrests. In more than a third of his warrants, officers found no drugs, or only marijuana. 

That’s what happened at the house in Portland in 2018. 

Matthew Brinson

The officers were expecting to find a big time drug dealer, but instead, they found Matthew Brinson, just returned from his job at a hardware store, and four children, sitting on the couch. 

Officers put Brinson in handcuffs while they ransacked his house, looking for the alleged drugs, he said. They found a small bag of personal-use marijuana tucked in the pocket of a pair of jeans in a bedroom and three marijuana plants out by the fence line. Brinson was not the target of the search, but he was still charged with two misdemeanors. 

Brinson knew the alleged drug dealer the police said they were looking for, but said he hadn’t been in the house since Brinson moved in the previous year. 

“It was just a whole cluster of lies that I can contradict, that I can prove, up and down,” Brinson said. 

The warrant Bailey obtained did not have a “no-knock” provision, but Brinson said he didn’t hear the police knock or announce themselves. Video footage from a neighbor’s surveillance camera shows police breaking down the door almost as soon as they walked onto the front porch. 

Shortly after police entered the house, Brinson said he overheard one of the officers admit they made a mistake. 

“When we first kicked in the front door, I knew we … fu**ed up,” a detective said, according to an affidavit Brinson filed in his criminal case. He claims the detective then took off his vest, saying, “It’s too hot out here for this.”

Experts: Warrants Raise Red Flags

LMPD

LMPD Detective Brian Bailey

Bailey, a narcotics unit detective, has been with LMPD since 2009. He is the top warrant-getter in a department whose search warrant procedures have come under intense scrutiny since LMPD officers killed Breonna Taylor. 

A recent audit of the department found a “culture of acceptance” in which supervisors seldom asked officers about the underlying facts and circumstances in affidavits used to obtain warrants. 

Bailey’s reliance on confidential informants — often to the exclusion of other investigative methods — should have raised red flags for the department, according to attorneys and experts. 

Attorney Rob Eggert filed a motion on Jan. 26 accusing Bailey of repeatedly using “boilerplate” language about confidential informants that is not independently corroborated and often don’t lead to arrests. Eggert is defending someone in a criminal case resulting from a Bailey warrant.

Judges are “asked to essentially rubber-stamp Det. Bailey’s assertions of probable cause,” Eggert wrote in the motion. “The alleged (confidential informant) is at the core of the assertion of probable cause in Det. Bailey’s affidavits, but no information is provided to ascertain the reliability or credibility of the alleged informants.”

LMPD policy requires that officers specify the reliability of the confidential informant and the information provided.

Louisville attorney Todd Lewis, a former state and federal prosecutor who has taught LMPD police recruits about proper search warrant procedures, said the credibility of a confidential informant is gauged by how much detail the officer provides. That includes whether an affidavit shows results from a past working relationship with police.

In 23 of Bailey’s 35 affidavits reviewed by WDRB News and KyCIR, Bailey didn’t provide specific examples of previous information that led to arrests, confiscating drugs or seizing cash. Those affidavits simply say the unnamed informant is familiar with criminal activity because of his or her past.

A review of Bailey’s affidavits reveals that he often does not describe using common policing tactics to verify the information provided by his confidential informants. 

In a majority of his affidavits, he never did a controlled buy, where a cooperating witness or undercover police officer buys drugs from the suspect. Those arranged purchases are an example of “direct evidence” that may hold up during a trial, said Brian Gallini, dean of the Willamette University College of Law and a criminal justice scholar who reviewed Bailey’s affidavits for KyCIR and WDRB. 

While Bailey reported conducting some form of surveillance in nearly all of his investigations, the scope of that surveillance is not always clear. Bailey noted that he observed “short stays,” people coming and going in a pattern that indicates drug activity, in less than half of the affidavits. He mentioned performing an investigative stop, when police pull someone over after observing them at the subject’s house, in only four of 35 affidavits. 

Taken together, Gallini said the affidavits don’t include enough evidence of identifiable offenses. He said he also is troubled by inconsistencies: some affidavits specify the past reliability of Bailey’s informants, while others use repetitive language without showing any details about the sources’ previous interactions with police. 

“The fact that we’ve got not only a detective who is pushing [this] style of warrants, but also judicial review that’s permitting them – I think that raises a separate concern here,” he said.

Former Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Stephen Ryan, who was on the bench for more than two decades and is now a defense attorney, said if the same officer is using the same methods in multiple warrants – using confidential informants without doing controlled buys – “it’s something you should question. It should raise a red flag.”

“If one officer is doing that many search warrants with that little information, you probably have a problem,” Ryan said. 

Bailey Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Informants 

Lawyers for the women who accused Bailey of sexual assault say the LMPD has been investigating the claim for at least a year.

The first woman sued Bailey and the LMPD in October 2020, alleging Bailey coerced her into becoming an informant and forced her to engage in oral sex with him. A second woman asked to join the suit a month later with the same allegations. 

The two women, identified only as Jane Doe and Jane Doe 1, say Bailey sexually harassed and assaulted them for two and three years, respectively. The women do not know each other. 

Under LMPD’s standard operating procedures, an officer should not meet with an informant of the opposite sex unless in the presence of another officer. But a commanding officer may grant an exception if it is in the best interest of the department. 

A spokeswoman for LMPD said the department does not discuss pending litigation and declined a request for an interview about Bailey.  

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Jane Doe claims Bailey pulled her and her boyfriend over on July 18, 2018, and police took them both into custody after officers had just allegedly found illegal drugs in his home. 

The woman did not live there and had no connection to the drugs, but was detained for at least two hours, according to the suit. 

The suit claims that Bailey threatened to charge Doe and when she became upset, he put his hand on her thigh and said, “I can help you, if you can help me.”

He then drove her home but before she could get out of the vehicle, he said, “You owe me,” the suit claims. Bailey allegedly told her that meant oral sex and, “fearful of the ramifications,” she complied. 

Several weeks later, the suit alleges that Bailey and his partner, who is also named in the lawsuits, forced Doe to become a paid confidential informant through “overwhelming pressure and threats.” 

For the next two years, Doe said she was sexually assaulted by Bailey and forced to serve as a confidential informant on multiple occasions, according to the suit. 

The other woman, Jane Doe 1, was introduced to Bailey in late 2017 and agreed to be a paid confidential informant, according to her suit. 

Doe 1 said in the suit that Bailey helped her get rid of criminal charges, and that he told her she “owed him” and solicited oral sex from her on several occassions. 

Bailey also threatened to lock her boyfriend up and forced her to send him nude text pictures, the suit claims. 

Doe 1 said she was interviewed by a detective about Bailey’s conduct in Feb. 2020. She provided clothing that she believed contained Bailey’s DNA, according to the suit. 

“These are not isolated incidents,” attorney Vince Johnson, who represents the initial plaintiff, told a judge on Jan. 22. “This is a pattern of conduct by Mr. Bailey that has occurred over multiple years.”

Johnson said there is proof of the allegations, including text messages from Bailey and physical evidence, and that Bailey’s supervisors and others in the department have known about these assaults and others for several years.

“There are LMPD officers that were aware of Bailey’s conduct…dating back to 2015 and probably before that and they took no action, thereby allowing him to victimize more people,” Johnson said in court. 

Johnson also said another alleged Bailey victim recently approached him with a similar complaint. Johnson is pushing LMPD to turn over evidence and allow Bailey to be deposed, despite the ongoing internal investigation. 

“The public has the right to know about this pattern of behavior by Detective Bailey, to learn what individuals in LMPD knew and when they knew it and what they did to remedy the problem,” Johnson said in court. 

Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine said in a statement that some Bailey cases are being dismissed or resolved by plea agreement because of the allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct.   

“We are always concerned whenever a witness’s credibility is challenged,” he said. “Before the allegations of sexual misconduct, our prosecutors were not aware of any reasons to question Bailey’s credibility.”

‘A cowboy trying to get his stripes’

After the police let him out of handcuffs and departed, Matthew Brinson was left to deal with the fallout from the mistaken raid. He had to fix the door the police had broken, clean up the house they’d torn apart and replace the security cameras that he said they broke. 

He had to answer a million questions from his neighbors, and calm his daughters, who he said were traumatized by what they saw.

“My daughter didn’t stay home with me for a week,” he said. “I got a family member that happened to be a cop and she says she wants to stay with him… because they wouldn’t kick his door down.” 

Brinson is a big supporter of the police. He’s the president of the 1st Division Police Auxiliary, which throws a Christmas party for the officers every year. But he said that experience shook him, and learning that Bailey has a track record of problems made him question why he hasn’t been stopped before.

“Brian Bailey’s just…a cowboy trying to get his stripes,” Brinson said. “This ain’t the first rodeo for him, and probably, if he’s still a police officer, it won’t be his last.”

Brinson’s attorney, Thomas Clay, believes the police went into the wrong house that day. He wanted to question Bailey about the claims the confidential informant made about his client’s house, but those efforts stalled quickly.

Even if the information provided by the informant was incorrect, the law would require Clay to prove Bailey included false statements “intentionally or recklessly,” a prosecutor argued to Jefferson District Court Judge Sara Nicholson during a January 2019 hearing. And she said questioning an officer about a confidential informant happens in only “the most extreme cases.”

Nicholson agreed with the prosecution and denied Clay’s motion.

“There’s been no showing that Detective Bailey’s statements (in the warrant affidavit) were deliberately false or in reckless disregard for the truth,” she said, according to a video of the Jan. 14, 2019 hearing.

“When you allege the cop lied about a search warrant and illegally entered the wrong house, that should be enough for a hearing,” Clay said in a recent interview.  

Brinson’s charges were eventually dismissed. Clay said he was not going to agree to a plea bargain and prosecutors did not want to take the case to trial. The Jefferson County Attorney’s office, which prosecuted Brinson, did not respond to a request for comment. 

Ryan, the former judge, said that if a judge does agree to a motion to suppress evidence or identify a confidential informant, prosecutors will most likely dismiss the case.

So how are judges and defense attorneys supposed to know how solid the confidential informant’s information is, or whether he or she is telling the truth?

“Good question,” Ryan said. “It’s an ongoing problem in how you verify them.”

KyCIR’s Eleanor Klibanoff and WDRB’s Marcus Green contributed reporting to this story, which was produced through a collaboration between the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and WDRB News.

This work was supported by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism to KyCIR.

The post LMPD’s Top Warrant Cop Accused Of Sexual Abuse, Questionable Tactics appeared first on Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

A Year Before Fatal Encounter, LMPD Changed It’s Policy On Shooting At Moving Vehicles Monday, Dec 28 2020 

The recent Louisville Metro Police shooting of Brian Allen Thurman has gotten attention as the first fatal police shooting since the city announced it would turn these investigations over to the Kentucky State Police.

But this is also the first time an LMPD officer has shot and killed someone in a moving car since the agency changed its policy on shootings involving moving vehicles late last year.

LMPD Officer Harry Seeders pulled Thurman over in the Portland neighborhood around 10:30 p.m. on November 22. The car Thurman was driving was reportedly stolen. Seeders’ body camera shows that Thurman turned off the car and showed Seeders his hands, but he then turned the car back on.

There was a commotion on the other side of the car — it sounds like a woman’s voice yelling — and Seeders approached the back of the car, now in reverse, yelling “stop.” Thurman hit him with the car, and Seeders began to fire his weapon into the Honda CR-V.

He fired five shots. Thurman died at University of Louisville Hospital that night. LMPD said a woman fled the scene.

Before November 2019, Seeders’ actions would have been measured against LMPD’s policy, which prohibited shooting at or from a moving vehicle unless returning gunfire from the car. Even then, the policy stressed, officers should only shoot at a moving vehicle “when it does not create an unreasonable risk of harm to innocent persons.”

But last year, LMPD changed that policy to allow police to shoot at or from moving vehicles in response to deadly force. A moving vehicle itself is not necessarily deadly force, the policy says, unless it’s being used in a “vehicle ramming attack” — anytime a driver is trying to injure or kill someone with their car.

LMPD spokesperson Sgt. John Bradley said the old policy may have been ambiguous when compared to the agency’s broader use of force policy, which allows an officer to use deadly force when they believe they or another person face an immediate threat of death or serious injury.

Many police departments have loosened their policies on shooting at moving vehicles in recent years, in response to terrorist attacks across Europe and the United States where cars or trucks were driven into crowds. But some experts say these rare events will never outweigh the risk to public safety of allowing police officers to shoot at moving vehicles.

“That opens the door to an officer saying, ‘I thought he was going to run me over so I shot him,’” said Geoffrey Alpert, who studies policing tactics at the University of South Carolina. “That’s the exact reason the prohibiting policy is in place, because that excuse was used far too often, and people that shouldn’t be dead are dead.”

Shooting Car Turns It Into ‘Unguided Missile’ 

Since the agency was founded during city-county consolidation in 2003, LMPD forbade shooting at moving vehicles, except to return gunfire.

The former policy was in line with policing best practices from organizations like The Police Executive Research Forum, which is leading the city’s search for a new police chief. PERF recommends that police departments prohibit shooting at or from moving vehicles unless deadly force is being used against the officer — by a means other than the vehicle itself.

That’s in part because if a car is being used as a deadly weapon, shooting the driver may not actually make the situation safer for the officer, bystanders or any passengers.

“If you shoot me, and I’m driving the car, now you’ve turned it into an unguided missile,” said Alpert. “It could come to a stop, but just as easily it could run into a house and kill 10 people.”

Plus, there’s often a much simpler solution at hand, Alpert said: “The officer could take two steps backwards and get out of the way.”

The push to prohibit shooting at moving vehicles started in New York City in the 1970s. When the NYPD banned the practice, police shootings there declined more than 40%, and have continued to decline since.

John Timoney, the deputy commissioner of the NYPD at the time, directly attributed the decline to the policy change.

“If a cop can give a valid reason why he or she shot at a moving car (I have heard a few in my time), it can be treated as an exception to the rule,” Timoney told PERF. “But in the large majority of cases, a strict rule against shooting at cars will not only save lives, it will keep our cops out of trouble, out of the press, and God forbid, out of jail.”

Like Louisville, the NYPD has also loosened its policy in recent years to permit officers to shoot at moving vehicles that are being used as part of a ramming attack. But the manual specifies that this clause is meant to address an “extraordinary event” like when an officer needs to shoot at a moving vehicle “to terminate a mass casualty terrorist event.”

Both the NYPD and the Washington, D.C. police departments consider a ramming attack as a car being driven into a crowd or a building.

In Louisville, a ramming attack is anytime a car is, or aims to be, driven into a building, person, crowd or another vehicle.

When Thurman backed the vehicle toward Seeders, that could be construed as a ramming attack in Louisville, but it wouldn’t be in New York or Washington, D.C.

Bradley said LMPD considers a threat to one person’s life to be as significant as a mass casualty event, and doesn’t want to put a number on how many people must be in danger before the police are allowed to use deadly force against a moving vehicle.

LMPD policy does specify that officers should “avoid tactics that could place them in a position where a vehicle could be used as a weapon against them.”

New Policy Part Of Local Ordinance 

The current LMPD policy isn’t just enshrined in the agency’s standard operating procedure. Metro Council has turned it into local ordinance — and some local leaders are pushing for it to become state law.

Council members Jessica Green and Brandon Coan sponsored a bill in October that codified some of LMPD’s existing use of force policies, including the policy on shooting at a moving vehicle. Coan said they worked with LMPD, the County Attorney and community members to reach consensus around eight use of force policies, from chokeholds to de-escalation to requiring officers to intervene if they witness excessive force.

There was a lot of debate about many of these measures, Coan said, but they found an easy consensus around the moving vehicles policy.

The language in the ordinance is effectively the same as what’s currently in LMPD’s policy: police officers can shoot at moving vehicles if the vehicle is “being used to strike a person, a crowd, another vehicle or a building or structure when capable of causing mass injuries, serious physical injuries, or the death of another person.”

The ordinance, which passed 15-10, is intended to ensure that a future police chief can not roll back these use of force policies.

“We are saying that the processes and procedures that are in place right now, will always be important and that’s no matter if Robert Schroeder, Yvette Gentry or Mike Jones is the chief of police of the city of Louisville,” Green said during one of the council meetings. “In my mind, these things never need to change.”

If LMPD wanted to return to the old policy that said officers shouldn’t shoot into moving cars unless being fired on, Coan said, the Metro Council would probably have to change the ordinance to reflect that.

The policy as it’s currently written also got the endorsement of the city’s Criminal Justice Commission. This group of Jefferson County criminal justice stakeholders included this policy on its slate of legislative proposals that it has endorsed for the upcoming legislative session.

That list of policies then goes to the Jefferson County delegation, as well as the chairs of the judiciary committee, to encourage them to file legislation to codify it in state law.

“It’s a policy that other police departments around the country have adopted, so it’s not a new idea that originated with the criminal justice commission,” said Scott Furkin, the executive director of the Louisville Bar Association and chair of the legislative committee of the commission. “But it’s certainly one we found merit in.”

Correction: An LMPD officer killed Brian Allen Thurman on Nov. 22. The date was incorrect in a previous version.

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While Other Cities Introduce Police Chief Finalists, Louisville’s List Is Secret Friday, Dec 11 2020 

Mayor Greg Fischer has a short list for a new police chief more than six months after firing former Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad amid scandal and scrutiny.

But the city is breaking with its past practice and keeping finalists for the position secret — even as many other large cities are doing the opposite. 

Jean Porter, a spokesperson for Fischer, said Fischer will announce a new chief by the end of the year. The secrecy surrounding the choice is meant to protect the identity of the candidates, Porter said.

“Disclosure presents a risk to their current employment and a risk to their reputation/credibility if they were not selected,” Porter said via email. 

An eight-member panel signed non-disclosure agreements and interviewed more than 20 applicants for the position. They sent a list of finalists to the Mayor about four weeks ago.

Porter said the candidates “repeatedly identified confidentiality as a top concern,” and she told a reporter to file an open records request to see the non-disclosure agreements. That request hasn’t been fulfilled yet. 

Laura Ellis / WFPL

Former Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad with Mayor Greg Fischer at a news conference in September 2016.

The search follows Conrad’s firing in June after eight years as chief. The mayor’s decision to let Conrad go came during a tumultuous summer in Louisville sparked by LMPD officers killing Breonna Taylor in March, and worsened by the shooting of David McAtee. National Guardsmen shot and killed McAtee after both guardsmen and police shot at him as he stood in the door of his west Louisville barbecue restaurant. Police said he fired a gun out the door after LMPD officers began pelting the restaurant with pepper balls to break up a crowd and enforce a curfew due to protests downtown.

David McAtee

LMPD officers who shot at McAtee had failed to activate their body cameras, even as protests raged over Taylor’s killing, which also had no video footage. Conrad, who had already announced his intention to retire, was fired the same day. His immediate replacement, Robert Schroeder, retired in September. LMPD’s current interim chief, Yvette Gentry, has said she won’t seek the permanent job.

Louisville officials provided a survey for residents to complete in which they could express what they’d like to see in a new chief. More than 10,100 anonymous responses were collected between June 10 and July 18, according to a city database. More than 2,400 of the responses suggested the next chief “defund the police.”

Other Cities ‘As Transparent As Possible’

Other cities on the hunt for a police chief aren’t being so opaque. 

At least nine cities where police chief searches are underway or were recently completed have publicized lists of finalists. 

Officials in Dallas on Wednesday released a list of seven finalists. In Milwaukee, the three finalists have held virtual public forums and sat for interviews with local news organizations. Four finalists for the top cop job in Madison, Wisconsin have also addressed community questions. Finalists have also been named in Ft. Worth, Texas, Arlington, Texas, Framingham, Mass., Oakland, Calif. and Nashville.

“We wanted to ensure we were as transparent as possible with Nashville residents in selecting the new chief,” said Katie Lentile, spokesperson for the city’s mayor, when asked why the list was made public.

In Louisville, secrecy has not always been the norm when it comes to police chief hiring. Fischer was mayor the last time they filled the job, and he did name the finalists when he hired Conrad. 

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Jessica Green, chair of the council’s public safety committee and member of the panel that interviewed candidates, said consultants with the Police Executive Research Forum — who were hired to facilitate a nationwide search —  encouraged officials to keep the candidates’ names a secret.

“We were led to believe that this was best practice — to not announce the finalist names,” she said. Looking back, however, and seeing other cities openly share candidate names, Green said she wishes there could be more transparency. Green signed a non-disclosure agreement along with the rest of the panel.

“I would have liked for the public to have an opportunity to see who finalists are,” she said.

Keeping secrets like this from the public will only widen the gap between police and the community, said Keturah Herron, policy strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

“Now is the time for the mayor and LMPD to be more transparent, not less,” she said. “There is no reason not to let the public in on this process.”

Councilman James Peden, vice chair of the council’s public safety committee and member of the interviewing panel, said he was surprised to see candidates were named in other cities. But he maintains that the promise of secrecy enabled stronger candidates to apply without fear of reprisal from current employers.

“I feel we got a much better list of candidates to apply up front because it was a closed process,” he said, comparing the candidates he interviewed with the candidates publicized this week in Dallas.

Louisville Metro Council President David James was also on the panel that interviewed candidates for the chief job. He said he’s not bothered by the secrecy surrounding the finalists, who he says should have a right to keep their job searches private from their current employers.

And both James and Peden compared the need for secrecy to recent reports that University of Louisville football coach Scott Satterfield was looking to leave the school for a coaching job at the University of South Carolina. People were upset at those reports, James said, because if they were true it would mean Satterfield was leaving U of L for a lesser program, even though both programs have each won only two conference games this season.

The same can be said for Louisville Metro Police, he said. If a chief makes it known they are seeking out a job in Louisville — which is plagued with problems regarding police and community relationships, and where the lame duck mayor has only a few years left in their tenure — it could damage their reputation.

“You’ve got social civil unrest, a police department that’s riddled with piss poor leadership over a number of years, and you’ve got a mayor that allowed that to happen,” James said. “It’s not like you’re coming into a great situation.”

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Louisville Police Change Warrant Form, Improve Transparency Wednesday, Nov 11 2020 

The Louisville Metro Police Department is using a new search warrant form that provides a designated space for judges to print their name, a change that follows scrutiny of illegible signatures on its warrants.

The agency began using the new forms last week, a month after state court officials and the Kentucky State Police offered law enforcement agencies a new search warrant form with a space for judges to print their name. Without a printed name, it’s often impossible to discern which judge signed a warrant, an investigation by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and WDRB News found. The news agencies examined more than 230 warrants and found the judge’s signature on 72% was illegible.

Kentucky’s Administrative Office of the Courts issued the updated search warrant form two weeks after that report. The Kentucky State Police followed suit and issued a high-priority notification to law enforcement agencies on October 8 that said the revised form “should be used immediately.”

By October 28, Louisville Metro Police officials still weren’t using the updated form. But an LMPD spokesperson said they began using it last week. By then, many judges had already begun printing their names underneath their signatures anyway. 

Interim Chief Yvette Gentry made the decision to update the forms, said Dwight Mitchell, an LMPD spokesperson. Asked why the decision was made, Mitchell responded, simply, “to provide a dedicated place for the judge to print their name.”

When the Administrative Office of the Courts updated the forms, spokesperson Leigh Anne Hiatt said the move was rooted in a desire for transparency and accountability.

“This will ensure that the person receiving a warrant can readily identify the judge who signed it,” she said.

LMPD has obtained more than 8,117 search warrants between 2017 and 2019, according to the agency’s annual reports.

The public deserves to know which judges sign those warrants, said Angela Rea, the president of the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. 

Being able to readily identify which judge signs a warrant can help dispel — or prove — any concern that police are “forum shopping” when seeking a search warrant, she said.

“That would be something you want to know,” she said. “I cannot think of a compelling argument to not have that transparency.”

Jefferson Circuit Court chief judge Angela McCormick Bisig initially dismissed concerns about illegible signatures, saying in September that judges’ identities could be determined by reviewing court documents and comparing signatures. But she later pushed for the warrant change to ensure judges would print their names next to their signatures.

“No judge can or should avoid accountability for a warrant they sign,” she said.

Advocates and lawmakers are pushing several search warrant reform efforts in Kentucky in advance of the next legislative session, in January. 

The Louisville Metro Council unanimously banned no-knock warrants earlier this year, and state lawmakers are expected to take up similar legislation when the General Assembly reconvenes. Other criminal justice advocates are calling for additional measures to bring transparency to the search warrant process, like recording conversations between judges and officers and mandates requiring officers wear body cameras when executing searches — though police and prosecutors have pushed back.

Simply knowing who is involved in the search warrant process, though, should be a given — from the judge’s name who signs the warrant to the officers who execute it, said Republican Metro Councilman James Peden.

Peden, who serves as vice chair of the council’s public safety committee, has in the past been a vocal critic of LMPD. But he’s happy to hear the agency is using a new form.

“Yay,” he said. “We’re finally on board, doing the right thing.”

 WDRB’s Travis Ragsdale contributed to this report.

Contact Jacob Ryan at jryan@kycir.org.

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As Louisville Leaders Push Reform, Police And Prosecutors Push Back Monday, Nov 9 2020 

Stephanie Wolf

A police officer watches as protesters disperse from NuLu on Sept. 25, 2020.

Protests in Louisville grew tense as September came to a close. In the month’s final weekend, police made more than 200 arrests, squared off with protesters at a church, and falsely accused state Rep. Attica Scott of rioting and attempting to burn down a library in her own district.

For months leading up to this point, protesters had made their demands clear: Arrest the officers who killed Breonna Taylor, and change the way the police operate.

But as the protesters pleaded for reform, the police pushed back: in the streets with riot shields and batons, and in a more procedural way, as voting members of the Louisville Metro Criminal Justice Commission’s legislative committee opposed several reform measures.

The committee is made up of prosecutors, public defenders, court officials, police and others with a stake in the criminal justice system. Throughout September, after the officers who killed Taylor escaped criminal charges related to her death, the city pulsed with the protests while the committee convened for virtual meetings.

There, they discussed whether they’d lobby for more than thirty criminal justice reform measures — some of the same measures the protesters had called for since taking to the streets in late May.

Recordings of the meetings show that nearly half of the items up for discussion focused on law enforcement and stemmed from controversial police killings, instances of insufficient transparency, and a desire to improve accountability. The city’s police department and prosecutors often weren’t on board.

Louisville Metro Police officials, as well as local prosecutors, opposed seven of the 14 law enforcement related measures the committee considered. The only measures police officials proposed would add new penalties for “blinding” a law enforcement officer with a laser pointer, or doxxing a public employee.

The Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the Jefferson County Attorney said that while the office voted against some measures in committee meetings, those actions “does not mean that we are opposed to the idea, simply that we wanted to improve either the proposal itself or it’s chances of being adopted by the General Assembly.” 

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell initially voted against the full legislative priority list in a meeting of the full commission, but later emailed a commission staffer with a request to change his vote to reflect his support. 

LMPD Sgt. John Bradley said in an emailed statement the proposals “contained language rendering some of the measures impractical at best.”

“There was no opposition to the ideas presented, only the ill-structured nature of the proposals themselves,” he said. 

Ultimately, all but one measure aimed at cementing statewide police policy change passed the full commission anyway, and in all, the Criminal Justice Commission will lobby for 31 legislative priorities spanning policing, courts and juvenile justice when lawmakers return next year for the General Assembly.

Historically, the commission does little to actually lobby legislators to adopt their priority proposals, said Scott Furkin, the chair of the commission’s legislative committee. Usually, the commission drafts a letter and sends to the legislative leadership members, and nothing more.

This year, though, there is a sense of urgency to usher in change, he said. For that, he hopes the commission will take a more aggressive approach to lobbying support for their list of proposals.

“The climate is different this year, than in years past,” he said. “Because of the protests.”

Furkin said the value of each proposal is a “function of who you ask,” he said. 

Opposition, he said, is an expected byproduct of an adversarial criminal justice system.

“That, by its very nature, creates tension,” he said.

‘The Time Has Come’

The commission unanimously supported the measure that drew the most attention this summer: banning no-knock warrants statewide. The civil unrest sparked after LMPD officers killed Breonna Taylor while executing a no-knock warrant led the Louisville Metro Council to ban the practice in the county. Furkin anticipates state lawmakers will support the measures: Democratic Rep. Attica Scott has already filed legislation and Republican Sen. Robert Stivers has indicated he will.

Scott’s legislation will also seek to require police wear body cameras when executing a search warrant. The commission also voted to support such a measure, but with pushback from the Jefferson County Attorney. Ingrid Geiser, the office’s First Assistant, voted against the proposal without offering any explanation.

The commission is also pushing for broader reform of the search warrant process that would require a recording of conversations between judges and the officers who come seeking warrants. The recordings, as well as the warrants, would become public record once the search warrant is executed. Though LMPD supported that measure, it was opposed by the Jefferson County Attorney and the Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney.  

Anne Dyke, the county attorney’s criminal division director, worried the measure would put confidential informants — who police often use to gather the probable cause needed for a search warrant — at risk of retaliation. Erwin Roberts, the commonwealth attorney’s first assistant, said conversations between judges and police shouldn’t have “any bearing” on the warrant process, since judges must only consider information contained within “the four corners” of the warrant application.

Leo Smith, Louisville Metro’s chief public defender, said in the meeting that the recordings would simply serve as a mechanism to preserve evidence and boost transparency in an relatively secret sector of crime fighting.

“The time has come and we really need to address this,” he said.

Louisville Metro Police officials and the Jefferson County Attorney’s office also voted against a proposal that seeks to ensure Kentucky cities and counties have authority necessary to establish civilian review panels tasked with investigating complaints against police. The panels would be an independent body with the power to serve as a check on law enforcement through subpoena power, crafting policies and advocating for people who complain about police. Efforts are underway in Louisville to establish such a group, with the support of Mayor Greg Fischer. 

Neither Dyke nor LMPD Assistant Chief Shara Parks offered any explanation before voting against the measure. 

Post-Police Shooting Policies Examined

Police and prosecutors also opposed two measures aimed at reforming the process that follows critical police incidents. One would mandate that decisions to bring criminal charges against officers who use deadly force must be made within 60 days. The other sought to eliminate current protections in the law that allow police officers accused of violating procedures a 48-hour window before questioning, during which they currently receive a written statement informing them of the topic of questioning.

Bradley with LMPD told KyCIR expediting investigations into use of deadly force “is not workable as autopsy reports aren’t often returned until closer to 90 days.”

“In effect – each use of deadly force investigation would be in violation of law unless done without the evidence and information required to complete a thorough investigation,” he said. 

Erwin Roberts, with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, said eliminating the 48-hour window would result in police officers simply refusing to provide any statement.

“It’s going to result in us having less information about what may have occurred,” he said.

Beth McMahon, the city’s deputy chief public defender, said in the meeting that the proposal was meant to inject equality in the criminal justice system. She said civilians aren’t afforded such a right, and police shouldn’t be either.

“The current system creates the appearance that there’s a different criminal justice system for police,” she said. 

That measure was the lone proposal not adopted by the commission as a legislative priority. Furkin and a representative from The Healing Place, an addiction recovery center, joined police and prosecutors in opposition.

But only the police representative opposed a statewide ban on chokeholds and other tactics that involve pressure to the neck or throat, or obstructs the ability to breathe.

LMPD policy already bans chokeholds. But Sgt. Nicholas Owen said he took issue with the banning of “chest compressions,” and voted against the measure.

“There’s some basic handcuffing 101 techniques that we’ve been teaching our recruits for years and years and years that could involve a shin across a suspect’s back while you’re trying to maintain control of their torso,” he said.

The commission also approved a number of reform measures that don’t deal specifically with policing, including proposals to eliminate cash bail and raising the felony theft threshold. B. Scott West, Kentucky’s deputy public advocate, pushed to establish a statutory right for criminal defendants to be physically present for their prosecution.

West said allowing defendants the right to be present in court for their prosecution is necessary once the pandemic subsides and courts eventually resume normal practice.

“Our fear is when we go back to what is a new normal there will be pockets of the state where someone will say, ‘We really liked the virtual court we’ve been having, let’s keep that going,’ and they won’t transfer a person from the jail to the courtroom,” he said. “We do not want to see this become the norm.”

The only vote against that measure came from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.

Police Opposition Common

Police opposition to reform measures is not surprising and can be traced back decades, said Samuel Walker, professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska Omaha’s school of criminology and criminal justice.

“There’s little hope of getting them to accept it,” he said. 

But, Walker said the protests that erupted this summer could mean some reform measures gain traction. The key, he said, is targeted, persuasive lobbying efforts that engage and educate the public and legislators.

“Especially focused on the costs of not doing reform,” he said. “If we don’t do anything then we continue this toxic issue of police and community relationships.”

Police in Louisville, though, don’t seem ready to accept the reforms protesters are calling for, said Jecorey Arthur, the Metro Councilperson-elect for District 4, which encompasses downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. Arthur pointed to a recent council meeting in which interim Chief Yvette Gentry pushed back on the council’s decision to limit some elements of use of force and push for de-escalation.

And reforms alone, he said, likely aren’t enough to meet the demands of the people who want change.

“It might be too much of a mess,” he said. “We need a reset more than a reform.”

The Louisville Metro Public Defender’s office proposed many of the police reform measures. Smith, the agency’s chief, said police reform is “desperately needed in this state and this community.”

“A two-tiered system of justice can no longer be tolerated,” he said. “In order to repair the broken criminal justice system, bold action must be taken and put into effect now.”

When the General Assembly resumes regular business on January 5, legislators’ top priority will be finalizing a state budget. That task is expected to cut into the work of crafting new laws and amending existing statutes. Furkin of the criminal justice committee admits that getting the Republican controlled legislature to value these proposals will be an uphill battle.

“I don’t think that some of these measures are going to really excite many of the lawmakers in the majority because they run counter to the ‘We back the police, we’re the law and order party,’” he said. “So I have to be realistic and expect that they won’t be embraced with open arms.” 

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Crofton Republican and chair of the judiciary committee, said his committee will not shy from tackling criminal justice reform measures. Westerfield expects bills related to no-knock warrant bans, search warrant reforms, and civilian review boards to be considered during the session.

“We always get a whole bunch of bills that come through the committee and we will get stuff done,” he said. “There will be criminal justice bills that I fully expect to pass.”

Contact Jacob Ryan at jryan@kycir.org.

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After Louisville Police Shooting Deaths, Cases Quietly Closed Tuesday, Oct 20 2020 

 

Screengrab of footage from LMPD Officer Brendan Kaiser’s body camera. Kaiser shot and killed Isaac Jackson in his parent’s home on April 25, 2018

It was Isaac Jackson’s parents who called the police who shot and killed him.

The 42-year-old, known to everyone as Uncle Isaac, is remembered as a funny, charming guy who loved to sing in the church choir and got a music scholarship to college. But a car accident several years ago led to seizures, his siblings say, which led to mental health issues and a string of arrests.

The night of April 25, 2018, Isaac showed up at his parents house, on drugs, acting erratically. They said they’d kicked him out the night before for causing a disturbance, and now he was back.

Isaac broke in and started smashing things. He fought with his father. He stabbed his brother, A.J., in the arm. His mother hid in the bathroom and called the Louisville Metro Police Department once, and then a second time when she felt they weren’t responding fast enough.

Isaac started striking matches, threatening to burn down the house with his family inside. The police arrived and the family fled the house, worried for their brother and the officers. Isaac’s sister Annetta Jackson showed up.

Courtesy Sonya Brown

Isaac Jackson

Then they heard gunshots.

They knew Isaac didn’t have a gun, but the police wouldn’t tell them what happened, or who was shot. Annetta wanted to comfort their elderly mother, who was outside barefoot, but LMPD separated the family. They put A.J. and Annetta into separate squad cars.

“I’d ask questions, you know like, ‘What’s going on? Can you tell us anything?’” Annetta remembered. “And nothing was being said.”

Terrified, she tried to get in touch with her other sister, but she said police took her phone away. She was baffled by the way the police were treating them.

Inside a neighboring squad car, while being treated for his stab wound, A.J. overheard the police radio: His brother had been shot.

Fatal shootings at the hands of LMPD officers have gotten national attention this summer in the wake of the killing of Breonna Taylor. Celebrities, politicians and protesters across the country have demanded information about LMPD’s investigation into the officers who shot and killed the 26-year-old emergency room technician. Taylor’s family got a sit-down with the Kentucky Attorney General to discuss the case, and his office released periodic updates about the status of the investigation.

But that’s the exception. Usually, when LMPD kills someone, families are left entirely in the dark about how the police are handling the case, an investigation by Newsy and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting found.

Reporters attempted to contact family members for all 19 people shot and killed by LMPD since 2015. Representatives and family members of 11 people killed by LMPD spoke with Newsy/KyCIR and shared stories of various ways LMPD and the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office have failed to keep them informed.

Some said they were never contacted by officials when their loved one had been killed, or weren’t told it was the police that killed them. Many have been waiting years for the police to finish their investigation, with no idea that LMPD had already closed the case and the Commonwealth’s Attorney had decided not to file charges against the officers.

“That’s awful,” said Greg Simms, an attorney currently suing LMPD on behalf of one of these families. “You’ve got people who are victims of crimes or potential victims of crimes, and this government agency doesn’t let them know that they’re not pursuing it. Of course they should do that. They should let them know.”

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office said in most cases they trust LMPD to notify the family of any decisions. A spokesperson for LMPD said they “do their best” to communicate with families.

Legally, that’s all they have to do. Under Kentucky law, someone is only considered a victim after a perpetrator is formally charged with a crime, according to a spokesperson for the Kentucky Attorney General. And no LMPD officer has been charged for fatally shooting a civilian since 2004; even when one officer was arrested in the Breonna Taylor case, the only charges were for shooting into her neighbor’s apartment.

A.J. Jackson and Sonya Brown, two of Isaac Jackson’s siblings

The night police killed Isaac Jackson, A.J. and his parents were taken to the police department for several hours. They were interviewed by LMPD’s internal investigators — they don’t remember who — and told they could pick up a police report and claim Isaac’s body.

“After that, they sent us on our way,” A.J. said. “And that’s about it.”

A.J. can understand why the officer shot his brother, whose actions made him a danger to himself and others. But he wonders what might have been different if the police had shown up sooner. His sisters want to know if and how the police tried to de-escalate the situation, and whether LMPD has learned anything from this case.

But everything they know about that night came from LMPD’s 30-minute press conference the day after the incident, where they showed excerpts of body camera footage, including when Isaac Jackson had thrown a knife, striking one office. Then-Police Chief Steve Conrad addressed the shooting, the latest in a string of such incidents.

“We are committed to doing rigorous and thorough investigations in each of these incidents,” Conrad said. “Over the past several years, we have responded to the concerns of the community by committing to transparency.”

But to this day, the Jacksons have heard nothing from LMPD about any investigation.

Some families not notified about death

Tammy Riggs was at work on February 1, 2018, when she got a notification on her phone from a local news station. There had been a police shooting, and the TV station was streaming live video from the scene.

“I went on and was watching it,” she said. “I watched it for hours and I didn’t know it was my son.”

That afternoon, as officers walked toward a car during a traffic stop in the Buechel neighborhood, one of the passengers shot at the officers. An officer returned fire, killing the shooter at the scene and striking Billy Ray Riggs, who was sitting in the back seat.

Tammy Riggs said no one from LMPD or the hospital ever told her her son had been shot, or that he was on life support. Eventually, her daughter found out from Facebook.

“He’s been in jail before…they know who he was. All they had to do was look on his jail records and see what address he used. All they said was, ‘We’ve been looking for you,’ she said.

“[They] wasn’t looking hard enough,” she said.

Courtesy Tammy Riggs

Billy Ray Riggs

LMPD’s standard operating procedure says the hospital should notify the next-of-kin “whenever possible.” Carolyn Callahan, a spokesperson for University of Louisville Health, said they couldn’t comment on specific cases, but said they notify next of kin as the situation requires.

When Tammy Riggs eventually got to see her son, about 24 hours after he was shot and he was already on life support. A police officer was standing outside his door.

“He was a prisoner, lying there half dead,” Tammy said.

When the family finally decided to take the 38-year-old father off of life support, they were dealt another devastating blow. They’d wanted to donate his organs, but learned that he’d been on life support too long to make them viable.

Ever since, Tammy has wondered what might have been different if she’d been notified swiftly about her son’s condition.

“It really should be, quite honestly, everyone’s responsibility, and certainly can’t be no one’s responsibility,” said Meg Garvin, executive director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute. “Someone should be telling the family, you have a loved one who’s injured. And then along the way, someone should be saying, you know, an investigation is happening.”

Families waiting on long-closed cases

At the hospital, Tammy Riggs met with Sgt. Nick Owen, who was then with LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit, before she was allowed to see her son. She said Owen probably told her something about the next steps in the case, but she doesn’t remember anything other than sheer panic. LMPD did not respond to a request to interview Owen.

She said that was the last time LMPD reached out to her. She said she called the Public Integrity Unit once, sometime that summer, hoping to get her son’s possessions.

Carrie Cochran

Tammy Riggs

“I would like to have the little stuff he had,” she said. “He carried around a little bitty pocket knife with his name on it that I bought him in Gatlinburg, and I’m sure he had that.”

She said she was told she could get his possessions back after the case was closed. So she carries Owen’s business card in her work jacket, waiting for the day he would call her and tell her the case is closed.

But according to a letter obtained by Newsy/KyCIR through an open records request, her son’s case is closed. It was closed August 24, 2018, more than two years ago.

“I haven’t been notified about anything at all,” Tammy said after reviewing the letter. “Probably now they don’t even know where [his stuff] is at, because I’m sure the clothes they didn’t keep. So the little stuff, who knows where it’s at?”

Riggs is not alone in this. More than half of the families and family representatives interviewed had no idea LMPD had closed the investigation into their loved one’s death.

Courtesy Greg Simms

D’Juantez Mitchell

D’Juantez Mitchell was killed by Louisville police in May 2019. The case was closed without charges for the officers in February.

Greg Simms, a lawyer for the family, said neither he nor the family knew the case was closed until a reporter told them.

Simms said he didn’t wait for that investigation to proceed with a lawsuit against LMPD. But he noted that the statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits is one year. In some cases, he said, delaying the investigation or not telling a family the case is closed could mean families are unable to get a lawyer to take their case in time.

“It’s upsetting that they wouldn’t come out and tell the public. It’s upsetting that they wouldn’t notify the family,” he said.

De’Mon’Jhea Jordan’s family got a lawyer and filed a wrongful death lawsuit against LMPD for shooting and killing the 21-year-old in April 2018. They have been anxiously awaiting the outcome of LMPD’s investigation; they even held a press conference in June demanding answers.

They had no idea that LMPD had closed its internal criminal investigation, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office cleared all the officers of wrongdoing in January 2019.

Courtesy Natalie Malone

De’Mon’Jhea Jordan

“They give you what they want you to have,” Jordan’s father, Larry Jordan, said. “They don’t want to give you the rest of it. If you’re so convinced that this truly happened, where’s the rest of the evidence? Let us see it for ourselves. But they’ve never done that.”

If these families looked to LMPD’s own database of police shootings for answers, they’d be out of luck. LMPD posts that database online in a show of transparency, but nine of the open cases listed in that database are actually closed.

Two of the cases have been closed for more than two years and have already been reviewed by the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability, Louisville’s citizen review board. The board found the investigation into the police shooting of Billy Ray Riggs to be “adequate and complete.” They issued no recommendations to the department.

Under Ky. law, these families aren’t victims

Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine said in an emailed statement that “communicating a decision not to prosecute…is particularly emotional.”

When the Commonwealth Attorney’s office is contacted by a family or their lawyer during the investigation, he said his office will make sure they tell the family once it’s concluded. Otherwise, his office leaves that task to LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit, which he feels “has some rapport with the families and is in a better position to communicate this difficult message.”

LMPD spokesperson Lamont Washington said communication “varies on a case to case basis,” and that “given the nature of police involvement in these types of incidents, we continue to evaluate how we communicate with victim’s families.”

They wouldn’t say if they kept any of the families informed about the status of the investigation, but two weeks later, they gave us a different response: our “current practice” is for the victim services staff to offer these families “information and support.”

Wine said he is “certainly willing to review how other jurisdictions notify families in cases such as these and make changes in our processes if it seems appropriate.”

But LMPD and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office are not required to do anything to keep these families informed about the investigation and where it stands.

Kentucky’s Crime Victims Bill of Rights requires law enforcement and prosecutors to keep victims — or their family, if they’re deceased — updated about the status of their criminal case.

But in Kentucky, you’re only legally considered a victim once charges are filed, according to a spokesperson for the Kentucky Attorney General. That doesn’t apply to the families of the 19 people killed by LMPD since 2015, because no officer was ever charged for any of those deaths.

Meg Garvin, from the National Crime Victim Law Institute, thinks that’s too narrow of a definition to serve people who may never get their day in court.

“It doesn’t matter the type of crime, we can … presume victim status and afford rights of dignity, fairness and respect to any person who alleges a criminal incident,” Garvin said. “That’s the ideal.”

Take the Breonna Taylor case as an example. Because LMPD Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment, the neighbors would qualify for crime victims rights under the law.

Taylor’s family would not, even though she’s the one who is dead.

In practice, law enforcement and prosecutors often make victims’ services available before charges are filed. But they don’t have to, and according to families of those killed by LMPD, when it comes to police shootings in Louisville, they don’t.

State Sen. Whitney Westerfield is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former prosecutor. He said he was stunned to learn that families are not being told that these cases are closed.

“It shouldn’t take an act of the General Assembly to fix that, I wouldn’t think,” he said. “I don’t understand what’s stopping you from just picking up the phone or sending out a form letter or something. You ought to do more than that, but that’s easy to do. That’s a pretty low bar.”

Metro Council President David James saw this system firsthand when he started working with the family of Shelby Gazaway. Gazaway was shot and killed by LMPD in November 2019.

His family only found out that the officers who killed their son had been returned to active duty when a local TV station contacted them; they were doing a story about one of the officers, Patrick Norton, shooting someone else in June.

Provided by Gazaway family

Shelby Gazaway

Gazaway’s parents had been trying for months to get their son’s cell phone and car back from LMPD, and eventually, James said he had to personally intervene.

“It’s ridiculous,” said James, a former LMPD detective. “It’s unacceptable.”

The Louisville Metro Council passed a resolution in August that encourages more transparency from LMPD. But beyond that, James doesn’t think there’s much the council can do other than take the call when a family needs them to intervene on their behalf.

But he acknowledges that’s an imperfect system that puts too much burden on the families of those killed by police.

“They want answers and they deserve those answers,” James said. “Those answers should be given to those families as soon as the police department knows anything about it. And that’s not what happens.”

According to Wine, his office directly communicated their decision to the families of three people killed by LMPD since 2015, including William Allen Young, Jr.

Young was shot and killed by LMPD in February 2017. Like in every other police shooting in Louisville during that time period, Wine’s office determined that the officers used the appropriate amount of force and no criminal charges were necessary.

Wine sent Young’s mother a personal note, hand-signed, expressing his condolences the day before his office sent the determination letter to LMPD. The letter says it is his “professional responsibility” to tell her that he has decided not to file charges, and it directs her on how to obtain records about her son’s death.

“I did not want you to find out through a third-party that there would be no criminal charges filed or Grand Jury investigation conducted in this matter,” Wine wrote.

Eleanor Klibanoff is an investigative reporter with the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. She can be reached at eklibanoff@kycir.org

Carrie Cochran is a visual journalist at Newsy/Scripps. She can be reached at carrie.cochran@scripps.com

Maren Machles is an investigative journalist at Newsy/Scripps. She can be reached at maren.machles@scripps.com.

Karen Rodriguez is an investigative journalist at Newsy/Scripps. She can be reached at karenrodriguez@newsy.com.

Maia Rosenfeld is a data reporter at Newsy/Scripps she can be reached at maia.rosenfeld@scripps.com

The post After Louisville Police Shooting Deaths, Cases Quietly Closed appeared first on Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

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