The Lexington police officer who shot a man raising an assault rifle in his direction early Monday properly followed department policy and training, police Chief Ronnie Bastin said.
But that news didn't appease one of the victim's relatives, who unexpectedly showed up at a police news conference Wednesday and asked Bastin why the man was shot multiple times.
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“Why would it take that much to put him down?” asked George Hopper, who said he is the former father-in-law of Warren Douglas Rayburn.
Lexington police Officer Matthew Jordan shot Rayburn, 44, about 4 a.m. Monday after responding to a domestic violence call at 1788 Arbor Station Way. Rayburn was armed with a Bushmaster XM15 semi-automatic assault rifle and pointed the weapon, which was loaded with a 30-round magazine, at Jordan and Lexington police Officer J. Michael Smith, according to a police report.
When asked to explain when an officer is justified in shooting, Bastin said: “The officer has to see a threat or believe that their life is in danger.”
“Obviously, in this case, the officer felt that,” he said.
Bastin said police have not determined how many times Rayburn was shot. Hopper said Rayburn was shot five times. No one else was injured.
Rayburn, who is still recovering at University of Kentucky Hospital, has been charged with first-degree wanton endangerment, a Class D felony.
On Wednesday, he was listed in serious condition, an improvement from Monday, when he was listed in critical condition after surgery.
Officers Jordan and Smith went to the house on Arbor Station Way in a subdivision off Georgetown Road outside West New Circle Road, about 3:30 a.m. after receiving several reports about a domestic violence situation between a man and woman.
They resolved that situation about 4 a.m. But the officers remained parked down the street within view of the house because they were concerned the dispute would resume.
“I think they had a feeling that something could flare back up, and that's why they stayed in the area,” Bastin said.
Later, the officers observed activity outside the residence and went to the house a second time.
The woman, Rayburn's girlfriend, was outside. Rayburn was outside but had returned to the house. Jordan, who was on the front porch, saw Rayburn armed with the rifle.
Rayburn refused to follow officers' orders to drop the rifle, and he raised the rifle in the officers' direction, court records say. That's when Jordan shot him multiple times. Rayburn never fired the rifle.
At the news conference, Hopper asked a series of questions — most of which Bastin could not answer. Police offered to speak with Hopper alone later, but Hopper said he had no comment for police and planned to contact an attorney.
Hopper also questioned why Jordan didn't wait for backup before he shot Rayburn.
Police have said the two officers called for help at 4:09 a.m., but Jordan shot Rayburn before backup arrived.
Lexington police have not said what happened during the initial domestic violence incident, and they did not provide specific details Wednesday.
Jordan and Smith have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Hopper said Rayburn, a mechanic for Happy the Glass Man, Hopper's business, can't move his arms and legs and hasn't said anything since he's been in the hospital.
Rayburn has been divorced from Hopper's daughter, Tracy Hopper Rayburn, for about a year and they have two male children, ages 15 and 25. Rayburn has been with his girlfriend about a year, Hopper said.
Rayburn's girlfriend did not want to comment for this story.
Hopper said he has never known Rayburn, a gun collector, to get into trouble. Bastin said he was not aware of any other calls to the residence.
“Doug has all the respect in the world for the law and he abides by it,” Hopper said.