New accounts in shooting of Harlan man killed in police custody released

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The deadly shooting out in a heavily wooded area along a Harlan County mountainside happened about four months ago. Monday, a file released by Kentucky State police under the open records act reveals accounts from various witnesses on the day of the shooting.

The case file includes video of the area where the shooting took place. ATF agents in charge of the search say Mark Sawaf was cooperative all day long leading them to seven explosives. They say after finding the 7th and as they were about to wrap up for the day Sawaf told investigators there was an 8th device close by.

ATF Special Agent Todd Tremaine was there, and gave his account of what happened.

Since the trail leading to the spot was narrow and steep, the team could not use side-by-sides they had been riding. Instead taking ATV's, meaning no one could ride directly next to Sawaf.

Sawaf riding on the back of ATF agent Todd Tremaine's ATV. Due to the close proximity Sawaf would be in to Tremaine, the agent left his gun at their staging site.

After not finding an 8th explosive in the location Sawaf led them to, the team then began winding back up the hill. Tremaine remembers feeling movement on his ATV, looking back thinking Sawaf had fallen off ... instead he saw him running away.

Lexington Fire Captain Brad Dobrzynski and Lexington Police Lieutenant Matt Greathouse, both part of a hazardous devices task force, were on an ATV behind Tremaine. Both men witnessing Sawaf's escape, jumping off their ATV chasing after him down a steep ridge line.

After gaining control of him while trying to make their way back up the ridge, Dobrzynski says Sawaf lunged at Greathouse grabbing the officer's holstered gun.

Investigators say Sawaf was handcuffed and shackled to a belt. However, because of the rough terrain, his hands were in front of him and adjusted to give him about a six inch radius of movement.

Greathouse says he feared for his life as he was fighting to keep his hands on top of Sawaf's trapping the gun in his holster.

Attempts to get Sawaf off of the gun by other officers were un-successful. Dobryncki remembers seeing Sawaf rocking the holster back and forth, refusing to let go. He says Sawaf was yelling "Shoot Me! Just kill me!" Dobrzynski then fired one shot, hitting Sawaf in the head.

Included in the file are copies of some letters found after Sawaf's death in his jail cell written the night before the search. One involved instructing a family member on how to handle his property, with another apologizing to his fiance for 'creating a mess.'

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