GPD officer's cameras not on when colleague shot

Zane Greer

GLASGOW – Neither the video camera mounted to the vehicle driven by a now former Glasgow Police Department officer nor his body camera were running during a Feb. 23 incident in which he and a Barren County Sheriff's Office deputy were arresting a man after a vehicular chase, according to documents the Glasgow Daily Times obtained through open records requests.

The deputy, Joseph Ford, survived being shot during the incident but is still on medical leave. The officer was disciplined around the first part of May in relation to the incident, and he left the department of his own accord July 3, according to the current GPD chief.

The Glasgow Daily Times requested on Feb. 26 any and all audio and video recordings of all Glasgow Police Department and Barren County Sheriff's Office law enforcement personnel involved from the time of the initial pursuit through the time of their departure from the Barren County Detention Center after Shelton was booked.

Both the city and the county noted in their responses to the records request an open investigation that was occurring regarding the case and referred the newspaper to the Kentucky State Police, which also declined to release the recordings, citing a provision in open records law that allows records related to ongoing investigations to be exempted.

In June, the Daily Times made a separate request to the GPD for records “associated with a rank, status or position change for any Glasgow Police Department personnel from Jan. 1, 2019, through the time this request is honored.”

A May 13 disciplinary action form for then-GPD Officer Zane Greer was provided, along with an attached form listing violations of policies and/or procedures that referred to an internal investigation, but no documentation from that investigation had been included, and that documentation was specifically requested at a later date.

After delays on both the Daily Times' and the city's parts – the latter for which the city attorney has claimed responsibility – in following up on that omission, the report on the internal investigation, which was conducted by then-GPD Capt. Jennifer Arbogast, who has since become chief, was provided in late August.

Arbogast wrote that she completed her investigation April 29.

“KSP cleared Officer Greer of any wrongdoing in regards to the officer involved shooting portion of their case,” she wrote. “In regards to the policy and procedures within the Glasgow Police Department, it was found that Officer Greer did indeed violate Glasgow Police Department policies.”

Arbogast goes on to describe that Greer, while outside the city limits, initiated pursuit of a vehicle traveling more than 100 miles per hour at Veterans Outer Loop and Exit 8 at Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway.

“Officer Greer did not, after the vehicle wrecked, conduct a felony stop but rather ran to the vehicle and placed himself and others in harm's way,” Arbogast's report continues. “There was a law enforcement officer injured during the altercation of Officer Greer and Mr. Shelton. During this pursuit and altercation with Mr. Shelton, Officer Greer did not turn on his body camera according to departmental policy. Officer Greer's [mobile video recorder] was not properly working as he had stated it was, according to his monthly vehicle inspection paperwork. Officer Greer has been spoken with about not turning his bodycam on by Lt. [Justin] Kirkpatrick. This was documented in January 2019. Officer Greer advised me that his bodycam was on during the incident on Feb. 23, 2019. Sergeant [Nick] Houchens advised that he was under the impression Officer Greer's bodycam was not on. It appeared Officer Greer was untruthful/deceitful during his interview with Internal Affairs Investigator according to interviews that I had obtained during the internal investigation.”

During a Friday phone call to Arbogast, she asked for a slight clarification that Greer had stated on his monthly inspection form that the MVR was working, but the feed from it clearly was not.

The findings were that six violations, two of which were related to the prescribed use recording devices, were sustained. Others were related to ethics, code of conduct, agency jurisdiction, and vehicle pursuit and emergency vehicle operation.

A subsequent memo from then-Chief Guy Howie states Greer became involved in a pursuit Feb. 23 that ended in a crash and that, during the arrest of the suspect, Ford was “severely injured when your firearm discharged.” Howie ordered the internal investigation as to departmental policy violations, he states, and he had “thoroughly reviewed her investigation and have accepted her findings. You violated the following …. You are hereby suspended for 180 hours (15 days) and are removed as a police officer trainer.”

That was unpaid time off, Arbogast said.

Ford's status

Ford told the Daily Times via telephone Wednesday that the bullet struck his left lower chin, traveled down through his neck and into his shoulder area, lodging near his left shoulder blade. His recovery is ongoing and another surgery is anticipated, he said.

Ford said it is unclear when or whether he will be able to return to duty, but he would “love to be back.”

He said he would “respectfully decline” to discuss anything else about the incident at this time.

More about the incident

According to news releases issued by the Kentucky State Police and Glasgow Police Department after the Feb. 23 incident, Jonathan David Shelton, 37 at the time, was driving at a high rate of speed early that Saturday morning on the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway when Greer attempted to stop the PT Cruiser he was driving.

The vehicle exited the parkway and traveled northbound on Scottsville Road before making a right turn onto South Green Street. After traveling down several streets, the vehicle struck a house off St. Mary's Court after attempting to drive between two residences. Ford was shot one time while he and Greer were attempting to arrest Shelton. He was initially taken to T.J. Samson Community Hospital before being transferred to Louisville, according to the news releases.

KSP was contacted about 1:37 a.m. to investigate the shooting. Greer was placed on paid administrative leave. Arbogast said that type of leave is standard for law enforcement agencies whenever a critical incident, including an officer-involved shooting, occurs, and typically it continues through the time the internal investigation is completed, but the chief at the time had allowed Greer to come back on duty in the few days prior to the completion. The unpaid 15-day suspension followed that.

Shelton was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment(police officer), one count of first-degree assault(police officer) and one count of third-degree assault(police officer), first-degree fleeing or evading police(vehicle), first-degree possession of a controlled substance(unspecified) as well as numerous traffic related charges and violations.

The GPD news release stated Shelton is from Smiths Grove, which was the residence address on the indictment that followed in April. The KSP release stated he's from Smyrna, Tennessee.

Neither news release stated who shot Ford. The Glasgow Daily Times contacted KSP and GPD spokesmen the Monday after the incident. GPD referred the Daily Times to KSP, and KSP declined to comment further due to an open investigation into the incident, referring media to its citation.

The GPD arrest report filed with Barren Circuit Court makes no mention of the shooting.

It details the attempted traffic stop followed by the pursuit and subsequent arrest of Shelton. The report, authored by a GPD officer, states Shelton became combative when Greer approached his vehicle once it came to a stop after striking the side of a home. The report says Shelton was "able to be detained" and then transitions into how officers searched the vehicle.

The KSP citation states that Ford and Greer were in the process of arresting Shelton "when an altercation ensued." During the struggle, Shelton grabbed Greer's service weapon, which discharged, and Ford was struck, according to the KSP citation.

The citation names three other officers who were present during the incident.

Shelton was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment (police officer), one count of first-degree assault (police officer) and one count of third-degree assault (police officer), first-degree fleeing or evading police (vehicle), first-degree possession of a controlled substance (unspecified) as well as numerous traffic related charges and violations.

When a Barren County grand jury heard the case in April, the indictment it returned formally charged Shelton, now 38, with one count of first-degree assault of a police officer, a Class B felony; one count of third-degree assault of a probation officer, a Class D felony; one count of first-degree possession of a controlled substance (oxycodone), a Class D felony; three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment (police officer), a Class D felony; one count of first-degree fleeing or evading police (motor vehicle), a Class D felony; one count of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol/drugs/etc., a Class B misdemeanor; and one count of resisting arrest, a Class A misdemeanor.

Shelton remained lodged Friday at the Barren County Detention Center in lieu of a $100,000 cash bond. His case is still pending in Barren Circuit Court, with his next pretrial conference coming up later this month.

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