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Grand jury declines to indict officer in fatal Kentucky police shooting of armed Black man

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury in Kentucky has declined to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of an armed Black man during a standoff.

Kentucky State Police presented evidence about the fatal shooting last year of Desman LaDuke, 22, during a mental health crisis and the panel opted not to indict Nicholasville Police Officer Joseph Horton, news outlets reported Thursday.

The accounts cited a Jessamine County grand jury report and attorneys.

Police were called to LaDuke’s home in Nicholasville on Oct. 22, 2022. Immediately after the shooting, state police said, preliminary information indicated that Nicholasville officers responded to a report of a suicidal person with a firearm at a residence and attempted lengthy negotiations. LaDuke “brandished two firearms while inside the residence in front of a bedroom window” and pointed them in the direction of officers, police said in a statement. Horton fired, striking LaDuke, who died at a hospital.

LaDuke’s family has said the police response escalated the situation. They called the grand jury’s decision “confusing” and “unfortunate,” according to attorney Sam Aguiar, who spoke with the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Desman’s family are not naive, and they know historically that KSP investigations do not typically result in indictments. They were prepared for that.”

A civil lawsuit filed by family members last year said LaDuke did not “brandish or raise his gun in a threatening manner to anyone” and that he was alone at home and “struggling with his mental health” when he was shot.

Aguiar said grand jury proceedings are conducted in secret in Kentucky and it’s unclear what evidence was presented to grand jurors.