1 LMPD officer suspended for violating department procedures dur - WDRB 41 Louisville News

1 LMPD officer suspended for violating department procedures during fatal shooting of Darnell Wicker

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LMPD Officer Beau Gadegaard LMPD Officer Beau Gadegaard
LMPD Officer Taylor Banks LMPD Officer Taylor Banks
LMPD Officer Brian Smith LMPD Officer Brian Smith
Darnell Wicker (source: family photo) Darnell Wicker (source: family photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad Wednesday suspended one of the officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man involved in a domestic incident at an apartment complex in southwest Louisville last August.

Conrad suspended the officer three days for failing to follow department procedures when he didn't activate his body cam. 

Three LMPD three officers responding to the Broadleaf Arms apartments on Broadleaf Drive near Crums Lane encountered 57-year-old Darnell Wicker about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 8, 2016. Conrad says Wicker was approaching the officers with a "large curved bladed object."

When he refused orders to drop the object, Conrad says two officers shot him to protect their lives.

Wicker was shot 14 times and died at the scene. 

The three officers involved have been identified as Taylor Banks, Brian Smith and Beau Gadegaard. All three were wearing body cameras, but Gadegaard's wasn't on at the time of the shooting. The shooters -- Banks and Gadegaard -- were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Officer Gadegaard testified in a deposition in a civil wrongful death lawsuit filed by Wicker's family that he "thought (the body cam) was activated. I -- it obviously, like, was not on. I activated it, when I realized it was not activated."

LMPD released footage of the shooting from one of the body cameras last year

According to a post attributed to Chief Conrad on the LMPD Facebook page dated Aug. 9, 2017, after reviewing the results of an investigation by LMPD's Professional Standards, he decided to suspend Gadegaard without pay because he did not have his body camera on when Wicker was shot. 

[CLICK HERE TO READ A COPY OF CONRAD'S REPRIMAND LETTER TO GADEGAARD]

Conrad says he has also "ordered a review be conducted of our crisis intervention and de-escalation policies and procedures, as well as our training curricula to identify any areas of improvement.

Conrad issued a letter exonerating Officer Smith of wrongdoing in the case. 

[CLICK HERE TO READ A COPY OF CONRAD'S EXONERATION LETTER TO SMITH]

In March of this year, Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine said Wicker's shooting was justified. 

"It's our decision these two officers will not be charged," and the evidence will not be presented to a grand jury, Wine said at the end of a lengthy press conference. He said Wicker had a weapon and that the officers "perceived a real and substantial threat to their lives and the lives of others" when they shot him.

During the investigation, Gadegaard said he looked into Wicker's eyes before opening fire and saw pure evil. 

"He wanted to get to me, he wanted to hurt me," Gadegaard said. 

Darnell's daughters filed a lawsuit against the city last September claiming the officers “unreasonably and unjustifiably cut off their blue lights prior to entering the parking lot of the apartment complex” and “did not announce themselves as law enforcement.”

In the suit, Wicker’s daughters say their father “was holding a tree saw” but he "was neither charging nor lunging at any of the officers.”

The lawsuit also states that the officers fired at Wicker "more than seven times within two seconds" of him walking outside. Chief Conrad is named as a defendant in the suit. 

Four charges remain in that civil lawsuit including wrongful death and unnecessary use of force. Officer Smith is no longer named in the lawsuit. 

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