LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Friends of a man shot and killed by police earlier this week say the body camera footage of the incident leaves them with more questions than answers.
Officers shot and killed Darnell Thomas Wicker, 57, early Monday morning outside Broadleaf Arms apartments in southwest Louisville. He was reportedly armed with a knife and a tree saw when he encountered the officers.
Two Louisville Metro Police Department officers were put on administrative leave following the incident. A third officer is considered a witness in the case.
Willie Malone and Mary Proctor knew Wicker as “Lawnmower Man” or “Bicycle Man” – both nickname friends gave him because he could frequently be found mowing neighbors’ lawns or riding his bicycle around the area. Wicker often stayed at the couple’s home off Cane Run Rd, and stored some of his landscaping equipment there.
“There’s many nights that he stayed in my shed because he didn’t have a place to go and the same night that all this happened he had just left my house,” said Proctor, adding that Wicker’s deadly encounter with police happened minutes after he left their home to return to the apartment he shared with his longtime girlfriend.
Wicker’s girlfriend and her daughter reportedly called police, claiming he had kicked in the door to her apartment and was armed with a knife and saw.
Two of the three responding officers had their body cameras turned on when they arrived at the scene, catching pieces of the confrontation. Chief Steve Conrad publicly released the raw video hours after the shooting happened.
Malone and Proctor said the graphic body camera footage was difficult to watch. They said it was difficult to understand what happened because Wicker is not seen in the video until he collapses on the pavement after being shot multiple times.
“I don't know about anybody else but it didn't tell me nothing,” said Malone. “From my perspective he shouldn’t have been gunned down like that.”
“I looked at it a while ago and it just hurt me. My heart is full of tears right now for him,” said Proctor. “When they hollered 'put the knives down' I know he didn't hear them so I know that was a tragic mistake, killing Lawnmower Man and Bicycle Man like that."
Family and friends have said Wicker was deaf in one ear and suffered from hearing loss in the other. Proctor said Wicker often relied on reading lips, adding that she was concerned that he might not have understood the officers' commands.
During a news conference Monday evening Chief Conrad responded to the concerns saying, "The officers were in very close proximity at the time and they were very loud and very clear in their commands to drop it.”
Wicker left three lawnmowers in Proctor and Malone’s backyard when he left their home early Monday morning. The couple tied balloons on the equipment to honor the “Lawnmower Man” who they considered a close friend.
“He’s going to be missed,” said Proctor.
LMPD's Public Integrity Unit is investigating the shooting. Their findings will be turned over to the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney for review.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Darnell Wicker's funeral expenses, click here for more: https://www.gofundme.com/2ja9ag9w