Daniel Suddeath

Daniel Suddeath

On Feb. 23, Barren County Sheriff's Office Deputy Joseph Ford was shot during an altercation involving a man who authorities were attempting to arrest following a vehicle chase.

A Kentucky State Police citation issued following an investigation stated that the man, Jonathan David Shelton, grabbed Glasgow Police Department Officer Zane Greer's service weapon during the altercation, and the gun discharged, leading to Ford's injury.

Ford survived the shooting after the bullet struck his left lower chin, but he remains on medical leave after enduring another surgery. Hopefully Ford fully recovers and is back on the job soon.

But there still remains many unanswered questions about the incident. Shelton has been indicted on multiple charges but has yet to be given a trial date, and we may learn more if the case goes before a jury. What we do know now is that Greer, who is no longer with the Glasgow Police Department, didn't follow GPD protocol and failed to have either his body camera or the camera attached to his police vehicle on during the incident.

This information came to light based on an open records request filed by GDT reporter Melinda J. Overstreet, and it only adds fuel to the fire as it pertains to releasing video from that February night.

When we attempted to obtain this information during the days following the incident, we were denied. KSP cited a provision in open records law they believe allows them to withhold such information if it involves an open investigation.

Truthfully, they likely don't have a video to release from the GPD, though there may be BCSO footage that could shed light on what occurred that night. Both agencies have deferred open records requests regarding the incident to KSP.

The public deserves to know what happened. The KSP citation was filed after the fact as state police officers weren't on the scene when the events unfolded. We know that the former GPD officer involved had his cameras turned off, and we have a mugshot of Shelton sporting a black right eye and what appear to be other marks on his forehead.

What happened? How was Shelton able to grab the officer's gun? How did the gun discharge? How did the altercation unfold?

These are questions that could be answered if there is video footage and if that footage were to be released to the public. To suggest releasing that information could hinder an investigation is misguided considering Shelton has been indicted and his legal defense team would have access to those videos if they are part of the state's prosecution case.

Is there any footage from that night?

If not, then that's not good for local authorities. Body cams are paid for through taxpayer dollars to protect officers and the public. When a serious incident like an officer-involved shooting occurs, not having footage of the incident available erodes public trust in law enforcement. There are too many good public safety officers working hard to protect us for us to not support law enforcement, but part of that trust involves transparency.

Does the footage look bad for the police officers involved in the arrest?

We have no reason to believe that the deputies and city police officers who responded failed to perform their duties beyond the discipline action taken against Greer for not following proper protocol. It's important to point out that, according to an internal investigation, Greer was cleared of any wrongdoing as it pertained to the officer-involved shooting.

But if footage exists that doesn't show favorably for the officers who responded that night, the public still has the right to see what happened. These are taxpayer-funded departments, and right or wrong, we should know how these public employees perform.

We all make mistakes on our jobs. We don't improve or learn from those mistakes if we're not held accountable.

Suspicion only grows when it appears the public is being kept in the dark. I've fielded several phone calls and questions about this incident, and I answer most of them the same way. I don't know what happened. There's not much information available beyond a few news releases, and any footage, if it exists, isn't being released to the public.

KSP has the ability to put any concerns aside and let show us what occurred Feb. 23. If there isn't any footage, they should confirm that and steps should be taken to ensure that officers have their cameras on when they're engaging the public.

And if what's been told to us is true, and Ford was shot due to Shelton grabbing Greer's service weapon, then he should be punished for his offenses. Attacking a police officer is a serious crime, and one that should come with a stiff sentence.

Suddeath is the editor of the Glasgow Daily Times. His column appears in the Thursday edition and at various times throughout the week. Reach him at 270-678-5171, or by email at dsuddeath@glasgowdailytimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @DsuddeathGDT.

Recommended for you