LMPD sees sudden spike in officer-involved shootings

LMPD sees sudden spike in officer-involved shootings

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As of Tuesday morning, Louisville has seen five officer-involved shootings in a little more than two months.

The recent incidents have left two officers shot and three subjects dead.

“March and April seem to be the number, the month with the highest totals and I’m not really sure why,” LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said.

WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters found the number of LMPD officer-involved shootings has been on an upward climb. There were eight in 2017 and nine in 2018, before jumping to 15 in 2019, according to LMPD data. Those numbers include incidents where civilians fired at officers, without the return of gunfire. Police fired back in eight of the 15 shootings in 2019, LMPD said.

“It’s a tough situation for everyone involved,” Conrad said.

Since 2014, the data lists 47 subjects involved as black, 32 of them as white, and one Hispanic. Since that date, 26 of the officer-involved shootings have been deadly.

The most recent spike in such incidents began on March 13 with the Breonna Taylor case. That was the first of two officer-involved shootings in less than 24 hours. Taylor’s case, which resulted in her death and an officer being shot in the leg while serving a warrant, was followed by another incident involving Justin Riggs just hours later.

“Officer involved shootings are up, but shootings and homicides are up,” LMPD Public Integrity Unit Lt. Ted Eidem said.

Police were responding to a call about domestic abuse before Riggs, who was on house arrest for the same crime, indicated he had a gun, and made a move for it, LMPD said, when officers fired.

Two weeks later, on March 25, police rescued a pregnant woman who’d been stabbed by Byron Johnson. LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said Johnson showed a gun when police stopped him in his car. Conrad said it was unclear who had fired first. Johnson then fled again on a short chase before stopping and firing shots again. Johnson survived; none of the officers was struck.

Five days after that incident, 44-year-old Jessie Stringfield reached for his gun during a struggle with a UofL police officer, LMPD said, when another officer fired. The officers gave Stringfield aid after the shooting, but Stringfield did not survive.

Early Tuesday morning, another officer was shot in the shoulder by the suspect he’d approached on suspicion that the suspect was smoking marijuana. The officer fired back while on the ground, striking the suspect. The officer has already been treated and released from a hospital; the suspect was taken to UofL Hospital. He’s also expected to survive, and will be charged with attempted murder of a police officer.

“It’s something that officers hope they never have to do, having to fire their weapon,” Conrad said.

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