Lawsuit filed in Desman LaDuke case

Lawsuit filed in Desman LaDuke case
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 5:15 PM EST
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NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - On Tuesday, attorneys filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Nicholasville Police Officer Joseph Horton on behalf of LaDuke’s estate.

The lawsuit accuses Officer Horton of excessive force, assault and battery, negligence, and wrongful death. It also seeks punitive damages.

Monday, Kentucky State Police identified Horton as the officer who shot LaDuke during an hours-long standoff, three weeks ago.

The suit claims one of LaDuke’s family members called 911, asking for police help as LaDuke had a firearm and was suffering from suicidal thoughts. It goes on to say, along with officers, members of the Special Response Team, like Horton, arrived armed with sniper rifles. Continuing that LaDuke was cooperative, and during the standoff, LaDuke’s family pleaded with officers to allow them to help talk to LaDuke and de-escalate the situation and were refused. The lawsuit goes on to say Horton shot LaDuke, and while he laid on the kitchen floor, it claims officers continued to yell at LaDuke, telling him it was his own fault that he was shot. The suit claims LaDuke did not pose a threat to anyone but himself.

Police told us previously that LaDuke pointed two firearms at officers before shots were fired.

“You would think he had hostages or something in there,” said LaDuke’s aunt, Melissa Marks. “I was so confused when I pulled up, I thought something had escalated. That something had happened. I didn’t know about. But it was just him in there.”

Marks told us the rest of the family did not know the lawsuit was being filed. She says they are confused and concerned about the motives. They also objected to a lawyer being appointed the administrator of LaDuke’s estate in the first place. Instead, she says they just want to continue to fight for reform in the way police respond to wellness checks.

The attorneys representing LaDuke’s estate said in a statement, “the lawsuit filed today is the first step toward obtaining answers. We intend to vigorously prosecute the civil rights, wrongful death and other claims included in the complaint.”

Officer Horton has been put on administrative leave during the investigation.