PIKEVILLE, Ky. – The Pike County (Ky.) Grand Jury determined that the KSP trooper involved in the fatal shooting of John Casey acted under reasonable circumstances and the use of force was justified under KRS 503.050 which permits the use of deadly force when necessary.
The following information is a report issued from the grand jury regarding the incident that occurred on July 31. The grand jury hearing took place on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
The Pike County Ky. grand jury heard testimony regarding an incident that happened July 31, in the Freeburn community of Pike County.
Trooper Jonathan Rouse shot John A. Casey one time in the chest and John Casey died shortly after being shot.
Trooper Rouse and Trooper Harold Rowe responded to a complaint of an assault committed by Lacy Wolford. Trooper Rouse and Trooper Rowe met and discussed the situation and this history of violence from John Casey and Lacy Wolford before proceeding to the scene.
After arriving at the scene, Trooper Rouse encountered John Casey and advised him that he was under arrest for an outstanding warrant. Lacy Wolford ran away and was chased by Trooper Rowe and Trooper Rouse. John Casey took that opportunity to flee and ran into the woods in a different direction than Lacy Wolford.
Trooper Rouse returned and discovered that John Casey had run away after being told he was under arrest. He searched unsuccessfully for Casey.
Trooper Rouse returned to his vehicle. John Casey came out of the woods in an area where he was above Trooper Rouse and taunted Trooper Rouse and threw a rock that hit him in the head. Casey threw another rock that missed Trooper Rouse and continued taunting the trooper and told him that he was not going back to jail.
Trooper Rouse saw Casey reach into his pocket and pull out something silver that Trooper Rouse feared was a weapon. Trooper Rouse then fired one shot from his handgun resulting in the death of Casey. The silver object pulled out of Casey’s pocket was a can of beer.
The grand jury heard testimony that Casey had a blood alcohol level of .100 percent and a level of Gabapentin of 9.8 mcg per ml. He had no prescription for the Gabapentin. The blood alcohol level exceeded the amount at which a driver is presumed to be under the influence of alcohol for DUI purposes. This incident happened at about 9 a.m.
The grand jury finds the use of force by Trooper Rouse was reasonable under the circumstances and justified by Kentucky law. The use of force was justified by KRS 503.050 which permits the use of deadly force when such force is necessary to protect one’s self against death or serious physical injury. KRS 503.090 also gives a peace officer the legal right to use deadly force in certain circumstances when making an arrest. The grand jury notes throwing a rock at a trooper could be considered third degree assault, a Class D felony.
The death of John Casey would have been avoided had he simply submitted to the arrest and remained at the scene. When John Casey fled the scene and later returned to taunt the trooper, he unreasonably escalated the situation.
The grand jury regularly sees media reports of peace officers being killed in the line of duty. Law enforcement officers should be placed in jeopardy of being killed by people resisting lawful arrests. The proper response to being placed under arrest is to submit to that arrest and let the legal process take place. Had John Casey done this, there is no doubt he would be alive today.