Family of man dead after incident involving Nicholasville police demanding answers

The family of 22-year-old Desman LaDuke is demanding answers from Nicholasville Police after they say an officer shot and killed him.
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT
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NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - The family of 22-year-old Desman LaDuke is demanding answers from Nicholasville Police after they say an officer shot and killed him.

It’s a video that is going viral, showing the moment Nicholasville officers point guns toward a home, a shot is then fired.

On October 22, Nicholasville police responded to a call where they say Desman LaDuke was barricaded inside a home, and suicidal. a statement from the department says LaDuke appeared in the back window of his home and pointed two handguns at officers.

Police have not said, though, who fired the shot and have not said if any officers are on administrative leave.

His family says a Nicholasville police officer shot into the home and killed him, unprompted.

“There is a smear campaign going on with the Nicholasville Police Department, and we want that campaign to stop,” said Lexington-Fayette NAACP President Whit Whitaker. “They are saying Desman LaDuke had several weapons, but he was in no danger to the police officers.”

Whitaker has been working with LaDuke’s family to share his story, saying his death could and should have been avoided.

“He was having a real mental health crisis, and the family and we believe the way the department handled that was totally the wrong way,” Whitaker said. “We have to get policy in place and we have to take mental health issues as a real thing. We have to not approach it from an aggressive standpoint. That just makes it worse.

Kentucky State Police have taken over the investigation. They say it is an open investigation and are not releasing further details right now.

The LaDuke family wants to see transparency and accountability.

Police departments say they have specific training, to handle situations like the one LaDuke was in.

Captain Josh Nash, with the Georgetown Police Department, says many of their officers are crisis intervention team trained. Crisis Intervention Training isn’t mandatory for them. However, Captain Nash says many of their officers are interested in it.

“It is becoming an issue that we respond to over and over and over, and it’s more frequent now than ever,” Captain Nash said. “Monthly, we have a mental health coalition team that meets inside our department. We have members from all over our community. Mental health professionals come from New Vista, Eastern State, our county attorney. All these people, we meet, and we talk about what are we doing to be better for our community.”

Lexington Police Lieutenant Daniel Burnett says they currently have all their new officers take the 40-hour Kentucky Law Enforcement Certified CIT course. Burnett says the safety of their personnel, the person involved and the surrounding public is at the forefront of their minds.

“Calm, investigate, access, and facilitate is the basic template that we use to address crisis situations, and what that looks like completely depends on the circumstances at hand,” Lt. Burnett said.

Richmond police also prioritize training, and Detective Cheyenne Heflin says they take what they learned in the past, to help with different situations in the future.

“You know, on the way to every call, you’re kind of going through a crisis rehearsal yourself, to be prepared for anything that may come up, and you’re using your past experiences of, well this worked, let’s lean towards this,” said Detective Heflin.

Each of these police departments says they want people to feel comfortable enough to reach out to them if they ever need help. They say that a peaceful outcome is their objective when dealing with a crisis situation.