UPDATE: Williamson Police Officer Dies; Death Under Investigation by KSP

UPDATE 5/7/13 6:00 p.m.

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WYMT) - Those who knew him say it is shocking.

A man who took the oath to serve and protect is dead just days after he found himself on the other side of the law.

Most people called him "Jeff" and say it was his life long dream to be a police officer.

"He wanted to do good things for the community, and it wasn't a thing about money for him. It was really about wanting to do the right thing," said Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel.

But last week Williamson, WV, police officer Jefferson Taylor III was arrested for driving under the influence after crashing his cruiser.

"It was definitely a shock because like I said he was a good employee, and I never saw anything here from him that would indicate otherwise," said Rockel.

Under standard procedure Taylor was suspended until the investigation was complete, but Monday afternoon he was found dead in a family member's home in Pike County, Kentucky.

"It's terrible. It's just a tragic shock. I never would have dreamed that. I really wouldn't have," said Rockel.

The police chief says the circumstances surrounding Taylor's death are still unclear, but what he does know is that Taylor will be missed by everyone he worked with.

"He was like a family member, a brother to these boys, and he was like a son to me," he said.

Now the tight knit community is wondering where it all went wrong.

Because Taylor's body was found in Kentucky, Kentucky State Police are investigating his death.

They could not comment on the case.

Taylor's body was sent to Frankfort for an autopsy.

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UPDATE 5/6/13

PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) -- A Williamson (W.Va.) Police officer has died, and his death is under investigation by Kentucky State Police troopers in Pike County, Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel said.

Jefferson Taylor III, 27, of McCarr, Ky., was found unresponsive about 4:30 p.m. Monday at a relative's home in Pike County, Ky.

The cause of death is unknown.

Just last week, Taylor was suspended without pay after he was accused of driving under the influence in a crash involving his cruiser. Taylor was off duty at the time of the crash.

He had been charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and leaving the scene of an accident.
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ORIGINAL STORY 5/1/13

PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) -- A Williamson, W.Va., police officer has been suspended without pay after troopers say he was under the influence when he crashed his cruiser.

Kentucky State Police arrested Jefferson Taylor III, 27, of McCarr, Ky., just before 4 a.m. Tuesday in Hardy, Ky. That's in Pike County.

Taylor is charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and leaving the scene of an accident.

Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel said that Tayor III was on the department for nearly two years. Chief Rockel called Taylor a good police officer and says this is all hard for him to believe.

Kentucky State Police say Taylor wrecked his cruiser, and then left the scene of the accident. Witnesses told KSP that Taylor appeared to be under the influence.

Troopers found Taylor at his parents' house.

According to the report by troopers, Taylor failed a one-leg stand test, failed the walk and turn test, and missed his heel-to-toe test several times. Troopers say Taylor lost his balance several times during the tests.

Troopers say Taylor told them he had taken sleeping medication and drank a Four Loco. Later he told troopers that he went home and went to sleep, never took any medication or drank any more alcohol, although troopers say he smelled of alcohol.

According to the complaint, Taylor submitted to a blood test.

Chief Rockel said he was proud of Taylor's work as an officer, and this comes to him as a shock.

Rockel says that Taylor was not on duty when the arrest happened. We asked him about policy regarding driving a police car when not on duty. Rockel says the department's policy is officers can drive the cruiser when not on duty, but cannot take it outside city limits. Taylor violated this policy.

Taylor has been suspended without pay.

Rockel said that his office will investigate after Kentucky State Police wrap up their investigation.

Taylor was arraigned Tuesday morning. A pre-trial hearing has been set for August.


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