JESSAMINE COUNTY, Ky. – A Kentucky grand jury declined to indict an officer who fatally shot a 22-year-old man in Nicholasville who was experiencing a mental health crisis in October 2022, attorneys told the Herald-Leader Thursday.
Officer Joseph Horton with the Nicholasville Police Department used lethal force against Desman LaDuke after police were called to LaDuke’s residence regarding a welfare check. Upon arrival, the man aimed multiple weapons at officers through a window.
The Kentucky State Police were the lead investigators of LaDuke’s death. They said in a press statement that local police were at LaDuke’s home because they were told he was armed and suicidal.
The Nicholasville Police Department released a statement saying LaDuke aimed two firearms at officers through a window prior to being shot by Horton.
Scott Miller is the attorney representing Horton in his civil case, which stems from the shooting. On Thursday, he said he has not yet seen KSP documents from the investigation, the Herald-Leader reported.
“The main thing for us is getting a copy of the KSP investigation, which we did not have,” Miller said. “My focus is mainly on defending (Horton) in the civil case, and the resolution of this (criminal) case allows us to get additional information and hopefully resolve the civil matter as well.”
Miller previously told the news outlet the shooting was “tragic” but said Horton’s actions followed nationally-recognized policing guidelines.
Special prosecutor Richard Bottoms was assigned to the case, but was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
LaDuke’s family blames the police for escalating the situation due to the department’s response, according to the Herald-Leader.
Attorney Sam Aguiar who represents LaDuke’s family said the grand jury’s decision was “confusing.”
“(LaDuke’s family) are confused, frustrated and not surprised,” Aguiar said. “Desman’s family are not naive, and they know historically that KSP investigations do not typically result in indictments. They were prepared for that.”
Naturally, officers should not be charged when lethal force is justified, which the Jessamine County grand jury determined was the case in this situation.