Doubts shed on story of Louisville corrections officer who fired - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Doubts shed on story of Louisville corrections officer who fired gun in Kroger parking lot

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Doubt surrounds the story of the off-duty Louisville Metro Department of Corrections officer whose gun fired during a confrontation with a suspected shoplifter at Kroger in the Highlands.

Two top law enforcement officials told WDRB News that Kroger's security footage does not match John Thomas' story of accidentally firing his gun.

It's troubling for FOP President Tracy Dotson, who last week said, "He evaded a suspect trying to run over him with his car, and in the process of that, accidentally fired as he was getting out of the way, for his life."

But on Monday, his words told a different story.

"I have also been made aware of a conflicting statement," Dotson said. "I would agree to you that there have been some irregularities compared to the on-scene statements compared to what the ongoing investigation is turning up."

Sources said the video shows Thomas shooting on purpose into the back of a car as it drove away with a young child in the back seat.

"We hope that's not the case and again. It's an ongoing investigation," Dotson said. "But if that is the case, it would be highly disappointing."

On Friday, Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton suspended Thomas without pay. 

Bridget Kolb watched the chaos unfold at Kroger last Wednesday with her 6-year-old son by her side. 

"There was a gun pulled in a grocery store parking lot, and I was outraged by that," she said. "I hope others are outraged too."

Thomas was off duty and shopping at Kroger when the confrontation occurred in the store's parking lot. A prior statement from Metro Corrections said Thomas saw the shoplifter taking merchandise from the store. Dotson said Thomas notified Kroger security and only got involved after the shoplifter pushed passed the store's guard with remarks indicating he had a gun which followed policy.

"I didn't see anyone in imminent danger," Kolb said. "I didn't see anyone's life threatened."

Metro Corrections denied an Open Records Request for that Kroger surveillance video, citing the fact that it was still part of an open investigation. 

LMPD would not confirm whether the suspected shoplifted had been located or faced any charges. Thomas remains under investigation by both Metro Corrections and LMPD's Public Integrity Unit. Sources said the security footage could possibly lead to Thomas being charged with wanton endangerment.

Thomas is still in his probationary period with Metro Corrections. He was hired in April of 2017. 

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