Tuesday, February 25, 2003

No indictments for officers in shooting



By Joshua Hammann
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A police detective who fatally shot a handcuffed man in an incident that prompted protests was cleared Monday by a grand jury.

James Taylor, 50, died in his downtown apartment Dec. 5 after being shot 11 times by Detective Michael O'Neil.

A Jefferson County grand jury began meeting this month and considered several charges against O'Neil and his partner. The charges that were considered, but not brought, ranged from murder against O'Neil to wanton endangerment against his partner, Bryan Luckett.

Police acknowledged that Taylor's hands were cuffed behind his back, but said Taylor lunged at O'Neil with a box-cutter knife and made slicing motions. Some witnesses who were in the room when the shootings happened disputed the police account.

"Every person in Kentucky, whether citizen or police officer, has the right of self-defense. Every person may use deadly physical force to protect against deadly physical force," Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney Dave Stengel said. "On that night, Mr. Taylor used a box-cutter as deadly physical force."

Taylor, who had a history of mental illness and drug addiction, also had an extensive criminal background, including 10 years in jail for manslaughter. A coroner's report said cocaine and alcohol were found in Taylor's body.

Police plan to conduct an administrative investigation. A civilian review board will also investigate the shooting.




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