Skip to comments.Detective shot man handcuffed behind back
Posted on 12/07/2002 7:06:23 AM PST by SLB
(Suspect lunged with knife, Louisville police chief says)
A man fatally shot by a Louisville police detective Thursday night in Smoketown was handcuffed, with his arms behind his back, when the shooting occurred, Louisville Police Chief Greg Smith acknowledged yesterday.
But Smith said Detective Mike O'Neil and his partner told investigators that James Edward Taylor, 50, had taken a knife into his hands, worked his hands around to his hip, and was able to make ''slicing motions'' as he lunged at and threatened the officers.
Smith said O'Neil fired one shot after the first time Taylor lunged, but Taylor still was able to back O'Neil into a corner. With his partner, Detective Brian Luckett, unable to tackle Taylor or get the knife away, Smith said, O'Neil fired 11 shots and killed Taylor.
Responding to a reporter's question about how the public will react to the use of lethal force against a handcuffed suspect, Smith conceded yesterday that ''people will look at this and question why it happened.''
Civil-rights activists immediately denounced the shooting and asked the U.S. attorney's office to investigate.
''We find it hard to conceive that a man who is handcuffed can be a threat to . . . trained Louisville police officers,'' said the Rev. Louis Coleman Jr., executive director of the Justice Resource Center.
Coleman said that at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. today at the center, at 1331 Cecil Ave., members of his group will physically demonstrate how someone handcuffed with his hands behind his back ''can't wield a knife in any threatening way.''
Taylor's mother, Rosetta Taylor, said in an interview yesterday: ''They didn't have to kill him. They have Mace. I think this was as wrong as two left shoes.''
Smith said the detectives' account was supported by four friends of Taylor who were in his apartment at 709 E. St. Catherine St. when the shooting occurred. Smith alleged they and Taylor were drinking and smoking crack cocaine.
He declined to release the witnesses' names or copies of their statements, saying they may have to be reinterviewed. None of them were charged.
Geoffrey Alpert, an expert on police use of force and a professor of criminal justice at the University of South Carolina, said yesterday that a suspect who has been handcuffed behind his back ''can't be a serious threat if the officers can retreat and avoid him until they knock the knife away, spray him, etc.''
However, according to Smith's account, O'Neil couldn't retreat because he was backed into a corner and no more than two to three feet away from Taylor when he opened fire.
Taylor is black and the two detectives are white; neither officer was injured, Smith said. He said the knife had a 2 1/2 to 3-inch blade.
Both detectives have been suspended with pay, as is routine after a police shooting, pending administrative and criminal investigations, Smith said.
JEFFERSON COUNTY Deputy Coroner Rick Siclari said Taylor died of multiple gunshot wounds. Siclari said it wasn't known yet how many shots hit Taylor, but he said all entered the front of his body.
Taylor -- the fifth person fatally shot by Louisville police since 2000 -- has a long criminal history, including a manslaughter conviction in 1984 for which he served a 10-year sentence.
He was sent back to prison last year on a two-year sentence for possession of a controlled substance and other charges. He was released four months later, in June 2001.
Taylor was arrested most recently in July for alcohol intoxication and disorderly conduct after police arrived at his St. Catherine address and allegedly found him harassing women. The case was pending at the time of his death.
Family members said that Taylor was diagnosed in prison as a paranoid schizophrenic and that many of his problems arose from drinking excessively while taking medication for his mental illness. He worked occasionally as a day laborer, they said, and drew a federal disability check.
Taylor, who never married, had four children, two boys and two girls. He grew up in Smoketown and attended Meyzeek Middle School and Shawnee High School, his mother said, although prison records say he completed only eight grades.
One of his daughters, Rosetta Taylor Porter, said yesterday, ''He appreciated his family and he loved his mother.''
O'NEIL, WHO joined the department in 1999, has an unblemished disciplinary record, according to his personnel file. Luckett, who was named the department's Rookie of the Year in 2001, has had one letter of reprimand, for making a sexual comment to a trainee.
Both detectives are assigned to the 5th District and have received numerous letters of commendation and appreciation for crime fighting; O'Neil's commendations include one for saving the life of a woman who had threatened suicide. Neither had fired a weapon at a suspect previously, Smith said.
Smith said the detectives were looking for a witness in an unrelated case when they heard a commotion in an apartment next door on Thursday.
Entering the building, they heard a woman screaming for help and saying that a man had a knife, Smith said.
When the detectives entered the apartment, they found that the man later identified as Taylor was the most aggressive and agitated of five people in the tiny, one-room apartment, so they handcuffed him first and made him sit in a chair, Smith said. He said they didn't frisk him immediately because they wanted to find out first who had the knife.
After the others said Taylor had the knife, Smith said, the detectives pulled him up from the chair. But as they did so, Taylor grabbed a knife, presumably from his back pocket, swung his arms to a hip and lashed at O'Neil with the knife, Smith said.
O'Neil fired one shot, but it didn't stop Taylor, said Smith, who didn't know if it hit Taylor.
Smith said Taylor pursued O'Neil across the room, and was sometimes as close as a few inches from him. Luckett tried to kick Taylor but wasn't able to, and that's when O'Neil fired the shots, Smith said.
He said O'Neil told investigators he thought he fired six shots. The gun holds 16 rounds.
ALL LOUISVILLE police officers receive training in dealing with the mentally ill. Several have gone through 40 hours of specialized training to be part of the department's Crisis Intervention Team and are taught to defuse potentially violent encounters with mentally ill people. That voluntary program began last January amid calls for change following the police shooting of Rodney Abernathy on June 25, 2000.
Abernathy, who had a history of mental illness, was fatally shot after he charged police with a car jack in Chickasaw Park.
Since Abernathy's death, there have been three other fatal shootings by Louisville officers, including one in August of this year, in which Marshall Marbly, 42, was shot 16 times by officers who said they thought he was pulling out a rifle. The weapon turned out to be a BB gun. Marbly also had a history of mental illness.
In February 2001, a police sergeant shot and killed 20-year-old Antwan Bryant during a traffic stop after the car Bryant was riding in ran over his partner's legs. The sergeant had aimed for the driver but hit Bryant. Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Stengel decided not to file criminal charges against the sergeant.
In January 2001, Clifford Lewis, 18, was fatally shot by a detective after Lewis backed his cousin's van into an officer, pinning him between the van and a police vehicle during a traffic stop. A grand jury did not indict the detective.
The most important points: statement from witnesses and the effects of drugs.
This is obviously going to be controversial. The circumstances are - odd to say the least. I wouldn't want responsibility for sorting this one out.
Apparently firearms training isn't the Louisville Police Department's strong suit. But then we could say that about the vast majority of police training programs nationwide.
SLB, if you face an intruder in your home he's yours. Doesn't matter how many times you shoot him. However, panic would be the only thing causing twelve rounds to be used IMO.
A cynical response would be the detective wanted to be sure he wouldn't have shot someone who was "mostly dead."
Stay well - Stay safe - Stay armed - Yorktown
Don't you feel safer now under the new Homeland Security?
and drew a federal disability check......????
O'Neil told investigators he thought he fired six shots. The gun holds 16 rounds
This is gonna go bad for those LEO's based on all the little trigger words and local us versus them attitudes . And of course the simple concern based on early evidence shared that they murdered this POS .
Stay Safe !
Good to hear from you.