Grand jury declines to bring charges in Desman LaDuke shooting

Published 11:25 am Friday, August 25, 2023

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A Jessamine County grand jury has declined to indict the officer responsible for the fatal shooting of Desman LaDuke. 

LaDuke was killed on Oct. 22, 2022, after the Nicholasville Police Department (NPD) came to his home to answer a mental health 911 call.

According to LaDuke’s family, he had been “coping with the death of his mother and brother and the will to live.”

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The family made the call once it was discovered LaDuke had a firearm and was experiencing suicidal thoughts. 

The NPD sent its Crisis Negotiation Team and Special Response Team to LaDuke’s home.

The Crisis Negotiation and the SWAT-like Special Response Teams surrounded the home and after an hour and a half, Desman LaDuke was shot through his bedroom window by officer Joseph Horton. 

According to the Kentucky State Police, LaDuke brandished two firearms while inside his home and aimed them at officers. LaDuke’s family disputes this. 

Horton was placed on administrative leave as a result of the shooting.

 The attorney for LaDuke’s estate, Jonathan Fannin, offered the following statement to the Journal.

“It’s not clear what evidence was or was not presented in the grand jury proceeding this week– I do not have access to that information. What is clear is that a call for help should not end in a young man being carried out of his home on a stretcher with fatal gunshot wounds from a police officer. The outcome of the criminal case changes nothing about our commitment to aggressively pursuing the case filed in federal court. In fact, the conclusion of the criminal proceeding will allow us to access information that we have been seeking since the case was filed. We remain committed to seeking justice and stopping these 100% preventable tragedies in the future,” Fannin said.

Fannin also said that a criminal case decision is not the be-all and end-all. Attorney Matt Minner, Fannin and LaDuke’s family also filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Horton in late 2022. 

Officers were also not indicted in the criminal lawsuits regarding the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Tamir Rice, but the families of both Taylor and Rice did receive settlements in their civil lawsuits.