LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A former Jefferson County constable who shot a suspected shoplifter in a Walmart parking lot in 2011 is among 13 people who have applied to fill a vacancy representing southwestern Louisville on the Jefferson County Board of Education.
Dave Whitlock, who in 2012 entered an Alford plea to charges of assault and wanton endangerment stemming from the shooting, confirmed Friday that he is one of the applicants for the District 4 vacancy on the school board. Whitlock completed a one-year diversion program as part of the plea agreement that allowed those charges to be dropped.
Jefferson County Public Schools released the names of those who applied to fill the seat vacated by Ben Gies in response to an open records request. WDRB News has also requested copies of their applications, but JCPS had not responded to that query as of early Friday.
Whitlock said he decided to seek the seat on the school board, representing areas such as Pleasure Ridge Park and Valley Station, because ensuring local kids get a quality education is a “passion” of his.
“Our school system should be focused on our children for a number of reasons,” Whitlock said. “They’re tomorrow’s leaders, and we should be investing in our children. They’re our next doctors, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, factory workers, and if we’re not focused on their education, what are we focused on?”
Whitlock resigned as a constable after the November 2011 shooting at a Walmart parking lot in southwestern Louisville and agreed never to work in law enforcement as part of a plea deal.
Constable is an elected office established by the Kentucky constitution which comes with law enforcement authority such as arrest powers, but no specific duties or required training.
Whitlock contended that his weapon discharged after the woman, who was suspected of shoplifting from the store and attempted to flee from store employees, ran over his foot, but a police investigation found video and witness accounts disputing that claim. The woman, Tammie Ortiz, suffered non-life-threatening injuries to her face and arm.
Whitlock said Friday that the “unfortunate” incident should not detract from his chances of landing a spot on the school board and that he “learned a lot” in the aftermath.
“That’s something way different that had nothing to do with education, had nothing to do with the future of education, and that shouldn’t have anything to do with the future of our children,” Whitlock told WDRB News. “… That should not be a hindrance at all.”
Whitlock, a former county commissioner, unsuccessfully tried to unseat then-Metro Councilwoman Mary Woolridge in the 2014 Democratic primary, earning 17.3% of the vote to Woolridge’s 82.7%.
The school board will begin reviewing applications and setting up interviews ahead of the Sept. 14 deadline to fill the District 4 vacancy. Whitlock says he has not been contacted for an interview.
The seat will also be on the Nov. 5 ballot since there was more than a year left on the term as of Aug. 1, according to state law.
Whitlock says he intends to file for the election and won’t hesitate to address the shooting incident while campaigning for votes.
“I was put in situation that I was assaulted with a vehicle with a lady that I thought had ran over a loss prevention officer at the time,” he said.
Asked what he would say to school board members who may balk at appointing Whitlock because of the incident, Whitlock said, “It would be their loss.”
“They need to talk to the people that truly know me and truly know where my heart is, and I would hope that that would change their mind,” he said.
Others who applied for the District 4 vacancy are:
- Cassandra Ryan
- Debra Gray
- Joe Marshall
- Andrea Bailey
- Julie Broyles
- Joe Laurenz
- Saundra Gibson
- Cynthia Moore
- Joe Goodin
- Brandon Spaulding
- Shahera C. Brown
- Shameka Parrish-Wright
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