Indicted detective: Suspect grabbed for gun prior to shooting
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An off-duty Louisville Metro Police detective indicted in connection with a shooting last year said the man he shot had reached for the officer's weapon, according to evidence filed in Jefferson Circuit Court.
Detective Chauncey Carthan said in a statement during a medical exam the day after the Sept. 4, 2012 shooting that Ishmael Gough "was grabbing my weapon from the top, at the barrel and trying to knock the gun out of my hands."
Gough acknowledged in an interview with police that he attempted to grab Carthan's gun after both men stopped their vehicles on 24th Street near Chestnut Street.
Gough said the detective had been following him, didn't turn on his lights and "never once showed me the badge," although he said Carthan claimed to be a police officer. Gough told reporters earlier this month that he feared for his life and thought he was being robbed.
The new court records also show that Carthan was at the center of a separate complaint to the police's Public Integrity Unit alleging he pointed his gun at a man without identifying himself as a police officer. The man who made that complaint said it occurred Sept. 3, 2012 -- the day before Carthan shot Gough.
A Jefferson County grand jury indicted Carthan -- who is on paid administrative duty -- in August on charges of wanton endangerment, official misconduct and driving under the influence. The wanton endangerment charge is a felony, but the grand jury did not indict Carthan on a charge of second-degree assault.
Prosecutors said Carthan testified in front of the grand jury. Those statements, which were not included in the recently released evidence, are to be introduced at his trial.
Steve Schroering, Carthan's attorney, said the acknowledgment by Gough that he tried to grab the detective's weapon "certainly explains why the gun was discharged." He said Carthan did not give a formal statement to police.
The documents filed in the case last Friday include a brief summary of a statement Carthan made the day after the shooting. Also filed with the court are interviews with officers who responded to the scene, witnesses and Gough.
Sgt. Chad Cunningham said Carthan told him at the scene that Gough "came at him … acting like he was reaching, reaching in his waistband or reaching for something."
Shawntez Ross, who told police he witnessed the shooting, said he didn't hear Carthan identify himself as an officer or use lights or a siren. But he described Carthan as "belligerent" and said Gough "never made any advance toward him. Chauncey (Carthan) was the aggressor the whole time."
A woman who lived on Chestnut Street told police that she witnessed officers removing Carthan's badge from his back pocket. She said she didn't see a badge prior to the responding officers taking it from the detective's pocket.
Gough told police in an interview at University Hospital several hours after the shooting that Carthan had been following him closely shortly before Gough stopped his car. Carthan got out of his vehicle and "told me to get outta the car, he was the police," Gough said.
"As soon as I stopped, he came toward with me the gun and said he was the police. And that's when he put the gun … he kinda like put it down … and that's when I tried to go towards him and grab his hand, and try to get the gun from ‘im. And that's when he drew back and shot me in my leg and told me to get back on the ground," Gough said.
During a medical exam on Sept. 17, 2012, Gough told a physician that he was six to seven feet away from Carthan, standing next to his car with his hands up, when he was shot.
Garry Adams, Gough's attorney in a civil, federal lawsuit, said he has not talked with Gough about him reaching for the gun, but said "I don't know that it changes anything," arguing that Carthan was intoxicated, made an illegal stop and used an "unnecessary amount of force."
Police responded to the shooting shortly before midnight on Sept. 4, and Carthan registered a .081 blood-alcohol level – above Kentucky's .08 legal limit – when police administered a breathalyzer test about three hours later, according to documents filed in the case.
"That's ridiculous," Adams said. "Anybody else in the community would have had a breathalyzer at the side of the road. … I wonder if they waited to help him with his defense. But clearly the guy was out of his mind, most likely double the range."
Schroering said it was an "unusual set of circumstances" and that police probably had to process the shooting scene first.
The court filings also include an interview with Michael Sheckles, who told the police's Public Integrity Unit in October 2012 that he had an altercation with Carthan. Sheckles said the detective almost hit his car while driving, then approached Sheckles' parked car on Floyd Street with his gun drawn and "pointed at my face and said, exact words, he said, ‘ … if you move, I'll blow your damn head off!"
Carthan was wearing street clothes and a baseball cap, didn't show a badge or use lights or a siren, Sheckles said in a sworn statement.
"He never showed me he was a police officer at all. Never showed," Sheckles said.
Sheckles said officers "searched the car without permission" but made no arrests. Sheckles said he was sitting on the bumper of the car when Carthan asked him: "Why the (expletive) you still standin', sittin' here for? You need a Court Order to leave?"
Sheckles said "it was unjust what he did. I thought it wasn't professional standards. I mean, number one is, someone draw a gun out on you, I take it very seriously. At that time I didn't know if he was gonna kill me or not. I didn't know if he was a cop or [if] he was someone tryin' to do harm to me."
Schroering said he had not yet read the allegation by Sheckles.
Carthan is free on his own recognizance.
Gough has filed a federal lawsuit against Carthan and the city. The suit is pending.
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