Fatal shooting of Darnell Wicker by LMPD officers justified

Shooting of Darnell Wicker ruled as justified

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) – The Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney ruled the Darnell Wicker shooting involving LMPD officers, Taylor Banks and Beau Gadegaard, was justified in using deadly force.

Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine met with the Wicker family earlier on Wednesday.

Wicker was shot by Banks and Gadegaard when they responded to a domestic call off Cane Rune Road in August 2016. Wicker had a saw in his hand at the time police arrived.

He was shot 14 times after police say he refused to put down a tree saw.

Banks and Gadegaard were on administrative duty while the shooting was investigated. The two officers will not be facing charges in this case. 

Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Steve Conrad said the officers will be returning to their normal duties. The Professional Standards Unit is investigating whether the officers followed department policy. 

Wine said Banks and Gadegaard perceived a real and substantial threat to their lives, this case is not going to a grand jury.

RELATED: Press conference for Wicker shooting investigation

Wicker’s family has disputed he was threatening while holding his tool in his left hand.

“They want accountability, and that can only mean one thing, that they feel that their father's death wasn't justified, again that's their words,” said Christopher 2X, a spokesperson for the family.

Wine said he could not a imagine the pain Wicker's family is feeling. 

RELATED: Full letter from Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine from the LMPD Facebook page

"I can never fully appreciate the depth of their hurt, but they are hurting," Wine said. 

Chief Conrad released the following statement: 

"We are in receipt of the Commonwealth Attorney’s notice that no charges will be filed against Officers Banks and Gadegaard stemming from the August 8, 2016 shooting of Darnell Wicker.

I can assure you the LMPD Public Integrity Investigation of this case was thorough, methodical and factual. I can appreciate that there will be sincere emotion and concern from some who will not agree with the Commonwealth Attorney’s decision. I believe the Commonwealth Attorney gave careful and deliberate consideration to the facts and evidence in this case and his decision should be respected.

The officers will be returned to normal duty while our Professional Standards Unit (PSU) conducts the administrative investigation of this case to determine if the officers’ actions were in compliance with our policy. I anticipate the PSU case to be completed within the next 90 days. Due to the PSU Investigation, in accordance with KRS 67C.326, as well as a pending civil lawsuit, we are prohibited from speaking further on this particular case at this time.

This case will also be presented for external review by the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability as in every PIU investigation that involves the death of a citizen. The Commission’s job will be to review this case, advise the mayor and me on matters relating to the quality and adequacy of the investigation and make recommendations on possible changes to policy and training.

Any loss of life is a tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all involved in this case – the Wicker family and our officers."

Statement from the Wicker's daughters: 

"Today, the Commonwealth Attorney Thomas Wine announced that LMPD police officers Beau Gadegaard and Taylor Banks will not be charged with any crime for shooting and killing Darnell Wicker. Danielle Cleveland and Dominique Wicker, Darnell's daughters, received this news directly from the Commonwealth Attorney on March 15, 2017.

Danielle and Dominique are discouraged that the investigation disregarded what is obvious from the body camera footage – Darnell Wicker should not have been killed. Darnell's daughters hoped criminal charges would prevent such a tragedy from happening again. Those hopes are dashed. Darnell's daughter's said, "We are disappointed that the criminal justice system failed our father. He was a peaceful man whose killing was not justified."

The daughters have file a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging wrongful death and excessive force by the Louisville Metro Government and the involved officers. Their focus now will be getting justice for their father in federal court. Danielle Cleveland and Dominique Wicker are represented by attorneys Sam Aguiar of Louisville and Al Gerhardstein and Adam Gerhardstein of Cincinnati."

Statement from Louisville's Black Lives Matter: 

"Darnell Wicker was the 712th American killed by police in 2016.* In year where 1,153 Americans were killed by police*, Darnell Wicker was shot to death with-in seconds of encountering LMPD officers on that frantic August 8th night. There were zero attempts by LMPD officers to de-escalate. There was zero officer concern for Darnell Wicker’s life. Every officer involved should be held accountable. The decision of the Common Wealth Attorney’s Office to not purse charges against the officers who killed Darnell Wicker is insultingly inappropriate. Tom Wine and LMPD perpetuate the inherent inadequacies of the American Criminal Justice System , and they continue to reinforce the state sanctioned assault on Black People and Black communities. We send our deepest condolences to the Wicker Family. BLM Louisville *www.killedbypolice.net"

The attorney for the two officers released the following:

"In the early morning hours of August 8, 2016, the Louisville Metro Police received a 911 domestic violence call from a female who reported that a suspect, armed with a knife, had kicked in her apartment door. The woman and another female fled the apartment and waited for help. The LMPD officers rushed to the scene with the sole objective of rendering assistance to citizens confronted with a life-threatening situation.

As the officers arrived, they were directed to the apartment by the complaining witnesses. They were advised that he was inside and still armed. As the officers approached the apartment they were confronted by Mr. Wicker as he exited the apartment armed with a saw blade a short distance away. They issued multiple loud verbal commands for the man to drop his weapon. Instead, he advanced in a threatening manner, putting the officer's lives in danger. In accordance with training, policy, and the law, they fired to protect their own lives. Evidence later showed that Mr. Wicker had cocaine in his system, knew the police were on the way and had two separate previous felony convictions for assault on police officers. 

The Commonwealth Attorney's Office had conducted an exhaustively thorough investigation of this matter and come to the only conclusion supported by the facts and the law - that this shooting was justified under the law of self-protection. 

The officers involved are relieved to have this part of the process behind them. Their thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Wicker's family. These officers did not create this horrific situation, rather they were responding to an urgent call for help. Their actions were necessary and justified. We cannot ask the men and women of law enforcement to protect us from the things we fear the most and then demand that they forfeit or somehow limit the same right to self-defense that we all hold so dear."

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's office released this statement:

"The August 8th death of Darnell Wicker was a tragedy and a tremendous source of pain for his loved ones and our community.  For my administration, it has been paramount that we bring transparency and accountability to every step of this process.

That is why we released the body camera footage about 15 hours after the shooting.  It is why Chief Conrad and his staff immediately briefed Mr. Wicker’s family and the community on the process that would take place.  It is that desire and demand for transparency that led Commonwealth Attorney Wine to conduct a thorough investigation – and then laid out his findings in detail before the public.  I deeply appreciate the exhaustive review he conducted, while I understand that the conclusion he came to may disappoint some people.

As we move into the next phase of this process, LMPD will now conduct a thorough investigation to determine if the officers involved followed all department policies and procedures.

I have asked Chief Conrad to take a close look at the steps that the officers took and did not take in this shooting.   He must also rigorously evaluate our police training, policies and procedures, including those related to de-escalation and individuals with mental illness or drug abuse problems.

Our police officers have an incredibly difficult, dangerous and critical job to do for our community. LMPD has been transparent throughout this process and will continue to be transparent with the public about the investigation and its findings – they understand that transparency, honesty and accountability are essential to maintaining the public’s trust.

Our country has a painful history of discrimination between some police officers and some communities of color.  Locally, I am committed to doing everything possible we can to address and heal the wounds of the past by listening and responding to our community’s thoughts and concerns, treating all citizens fairly and respecting the rights guaranteed them by our Constitution."

 

 

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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