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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Jefferson County constable accused of shooting a suspected shoplifter will never work in law enforcement again and must resign his position, under a plea deal reached with prosecutors.
David Whitlock entered an Alford plea Tuesday and will not serve any time in jail if he completes a diversion program.
An Alford plea is a form of a guilty plea. It means Whitlock maintains his innocence but admits there was enough evidence to convict him of assault and wanton endangerment. As part of his plea, the charges will be dismissed after a year, so long as he doesn't break the law, resigns his elected post and must never work in law enforcement again.
"He can carry a gun again after a year but he can never work in law enforcement," said Brian Butler, Whitlock's defense attorney. "He's happy to put the matter behind him."
Whitlock was charged after shooting an alleged shoplifter at the Walmart on Raggard Lane on Nov. 2, 2011. According to police reports, Whitlock was shopping at the store when he was alerted to a possible shoplifter.
Whitlock followed the woman -- Tammie Ortiz -- to her car, but she refused to stop. Whitlock later told police that his weapon discharged when Ortiz ran over his foot. She was wounded in the arm and face.
But Butler told reporters Tuesday a different version:
"That evening it got portrayed like he was this wild man that he was running toward a car. The reason he pulled his gun that is because one of the Walmart asset prevention person was behind the car and he thought that person was in danger," said Butler.
Prosecutors felt the caveat of banning Whitlock from law enforcement was necessary.
"After looking at the videotape we thought it the most important thing would have been the safety of our citizens in the future," said Van De Rostyne.
Whitlock was later charged with assault and wanton endangerment -- both felonies -- and could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison if he had been convicted.
"If we went to trial there was no guarantee of that. we felt in order to ensure the safety of the community in the future, that this was the best agreement for everyone involved," said Prosecutor Tom Van De Rostyne.
"What was David after? He wanted to move on with his life, he wanted to eliminate the possibility of going to jail, he wanted to eliminate the possibility of a felony conviction," said Whitlock's attorney, Brian Butler.
The charges against Whitlock will be reinstated if he violates those conditions. A hearing was set for Nov. 30 for Whitlock to bring proof that he has resigned as Jefferson County Constable. Whitlock rejected an earlier plea deal that would have required him to complete a 5-year diversion program.
After the shooting, some metro council members raised concerns over the role constables play.
Constables are law enforcement officers elected by voters. They serve 4-year terms. Constables have countywide authority and can make arrests, issue traffic citations, and serve subpoenas or warrants.
An attorney for Tammie Ortiz says she plans to file a civil suit against David Whitlock in a few weeks.
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