WKYT files open records request for police policies after Desman LaDuke’s death

The investigation by Kentucky State Police still carries on, but questions have been raised over the handling of the situation by Nicholasville police.
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 5:38 PM EST
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NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s been nearly a month since Desman LaDuke was shot and killed by police amid a standoff situation in Nicholasville.

The investigation by Kentucky State Police still carries on, but questions have been raised over the handling of the situation by Nicholasville police.

The records WKYT received from Nicholasville Police lay out their policies and procedures when it comes to dealing with a “person of diminished capacity,” This includes people who are suicidal, as LaDuke was on October, 22.

When responding to a call of this nature, there are four steps in Nicholasville Police’s procedure: containment, coordination, communication and time. A key theme, throughout these steps, is to isolate the subject from others and avoid agitating them in any way.

The containment step includes ensuring that “on-lookers and family members are not in a position to become involved either verbally or physically.” Once officers begin communicating, the procedure states that normally, family members should not be used because this “frequently exacerbates the situation.”

However, LaDuke’s aunt Melissa Marks says that on that day, she and another family member were both involved at different points and that it did agitate LaDuke.

“Melissa was told what to say as opposed to just being allowed to communicate,” LPD accountability activist, Sarah Williams said. “Desman being aware that what was being said to him was coming from police did not help the situation.”

Nicholasville Police say these are policies formed from models used across the state and in accordance with state law, but Williams says Nicholasville’s policies seem antiquated and need adjusting. But with the policy that is in place, Williams believes that the response was not appropriate when it comes to trying to diffuse the situation.

“Maybe if they threatened to blow something up or to do something that is just super destructive to require force like that, but we’re not talking about that in this situation with Desman LaDuke,” Williams said. “He wasn’t threatening anyone but himself.”

Many questions still remain unanswered for LaDuke’s family, including why such a strong show of force came in for this call.

KSP says a crisis negotiation team and a special response team were both at the scene on Green Street. We asked Nicholasville Police what prompts these teams to be called in, but they said the question was too broad. We have filed more requests for the policies regarding both these teams. We have also asked for their ‘levels of resistance’ policy, which could explain how they handle a perceived threat like LaDuke.

Williams and the LaDuke family will be back out in Nicholasville this weekend, seeking justice for Desman. They are holding another rally, Sunday at 2 p.m., it will begin at Clinton Hayden park.

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