Jeffersontown Police chief defends officer who tased man, killing him
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jeffersontown Police Chief Sam Rogers says he stands by the actions of Officer Manuel Cruz, who tased a man July 19 who later died.
"With this incident, though a deadly force response to the threat he was presented with to himself and to other citizens nearby was justified, Officer Cruz attempted to control the volatile situation through less lethal means," Rogers said Friday. "The loss of life in any police encounter is tragic, and we send out our sincere condolences."
Officers said they were flagged down near the Home Towne Studios on Taylorsville Road on a report of a man acting erratically armed with a knife. Investigators said 32-year-old Christopher Roberts ignored commands to drop the weapon, so Cruz, a 16-year veteran police officer, used his taser.
"One taser probe struck the wall adjacent to Mr. Roberts, and the second probe struck the detergent bottle Mr. Roberts was carrying with his left hand," Rogers said.
Then officers said Roberts took off running, and Rogers said Cruz fired the taser again. Police said Roberts was coming down the stairs, but officers believed he was at the landing when he was hit by the taser.
"Both probes struck Mr. Roberts, resulting in a fall to the ground and in the course of the fall to the ground, Mr. Roberts struck his head," Rogers said. "Additional officers had arrived on scene and provided medical care to Mr. Roberts."
Roberts was transported to University Hospital, where he later died.
"The Jeffersontown Police Department does not currently have body cameras, and as such, no video from such a device exists as it relates to this incident," Rogers said.
Rogers said there is surveillance video from businesses, but it hasn't been released.
"The video our investigators obtained clearly shows the knife in Mr. Roberts hands," he said.
Cruz was on paid administrative leave but went back on the job this week. Toxicology results for Roberts are still pending.
"This investigation is complete," Rogers said. "All our investigative findings will be forwarded to the Commonwealth's Attorneys office for their review."
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