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'They just want justice': Body cam footage shows fatal Bullitt County shooting, family files lawsuit

Last year, KSP said Eric Kessler tried to flee the scene after nearly hitting officers. But, the Kessler family lawyer says the video paints a different picture.

BULLITT COUNTY, Ky. — Over a year after a deputy shot and killed him, a Bullitt County family is calling for justice.

Eric Kessler was killed in January 2021 after deputies tried to wake him up as he was sleeping in his car.

The situation quickly escalated after Kessler woke up and tried to drive away.

Last year, Kentucky State Police said Kessler tried to flee the scene after nearly hitting officers. However, the Kessler family lawyer Zack McKee said the newly released body camera video paints a different picture.

"I think the video kinda speaks for itself,” McKee said.

McKee said he’s been working on the case for nearly a year and received the body camera video and other documents Friday.

He said his focus right now is on the civil suit on behalf of Kessler’s young daughter, but he hopes to see criminal charges for the officer who shot him.

The videos show the incident from the deputies involved: Maurice Raque, Nicholas Hibbs, Eric Burdon and Terry Compton.

In the lawsuit, McKee said Hibbs shot Kessler in the head and spine.

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Several minutes before the fatal shooting, Raque is alone, knocking on Kesslers' window. Video shows he was the first on the scene.

Raque tried to wake him up after being called around 11:45 p.m. about a car parked in the middle of the street on Cedar Creek Road. A neighbor eventually walks up and asks what's going on.

Raque then said he thinks Kessler might have overdosed, but then said he doesn't see evidence of drug usage.

"I ain’t see no needles or nothing either,” Raque said in the video.

Raque continues to try to wake Kessler, with no luck.

After more than 10 minutes, the other deputies arrived on the scene. They all attempt to wake Kessler; Hibbs said he recognizes him.

“I think that's Eric Kessler,” Raque said.

Hibbs goes on to say Kessler carries a gun.

Deputies then attempt to break Kessler's window; Kessler wakes up soon after. They told Kessler to put the car in park and open the door.

"Put it in park or I’m taking the window out,” Burdon said. “Open the door."

Kessler shook his head in agreement and held his hands up. Deputies said the car is still not in park and the doors are still locked.

Kessler then reversed and crashed into Raque's car. Burdon then hit Kessler's car with a hammer.

A few moments later, about eight shots rang out and killed Kessler. His car barreled through people's yards.

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Minutes later, Raque seemed to express grief.

"I wish he had just opened the window sooner before y’all got here,” Raque said.

McKee said the shooting was unnecessary and said now a young girl is without her dad.

"They just want justice. Everybody's hurting. At the end of the day, a kid was killed,” McKee said. “He was shot in the back of the head. No one wants that to happen to their child or their loved one or their brother or their boyfriend or father or anything."

The lawsuit lists all of the deputies involved and the Bullitt County Sheriff as defendants.

In a statement, Sheriff Walt Scholar’s lawyer said: “As is normal protocol for this type of incident, the matter is still under investigation by the Kentucky State Police; accordingly, Sheriff Sholar has no comment at this time.”

He said Hibbs is still employed at the sheriff’s office.

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