Crime

Lexington police: Officers shot man who drove at them in truck

A truck with two bullet holes in the windshield at the scene of an "officer-involved critical incident" Sunday morning near Ironworks Pike and Berea Road in Lexington. Photo by Charles Bertram.
A truck with two bullet holes in the windshield at the scene of an "officer-involved critical incident" Sunday morning near Ironworks Pike and Berea Road in Lexington. Photo by Charles Bertram.

Lexington police say two officers shot the driver of a pickup that drove at them Sunday morning in rural Lexington.

While on foot patrol on the Legacy Trail about 4:25 a.m., the officers spotted two parked vehicles near Berea Christian Church, police Chief Ronnie Bastin said. Preliminary indications were that people in the vehicles were involved in a drug deal, he said.

"The officers approached the vehicles to investigate the situation," Bastin said.

One of the vehicles, a gray Toyota Tundra, drove at the officers, who fired shots and hit the driver, Bastin said.

"It appears this was an attempt to hit the officers with the vehicle. In attempts to stop the approaching vehicle and protect their lives, the officers fired shots to stop the threat. The driver of the vehicle was struck," Bastin said. "After the officers fired shots, the vehicle continued driving erratically around the church lot before coming to rest against a fence."

Bastin said he did not know how many shots were fired or whether any drugs were found.

"That will be part of the investigation," he said.

Photos of the truck showed two bullet holes in the windshield on the driver's side. Bastin did not say whether both officers fired their weapons.

Police said they did not have video of the incident from the officers' patrol cars. Lexington officers do not wear body cameras, said Sherelle Roberts, police spokeswoman.

The driver, who police identified as Joseph Kilburn of Scott County, was taken to a local hospital for treatment of his injurie. Roberts said Kilburn was conscious and talking when he was taken away by ambulance but that his condition has "been in flux."

No update on Kilburn's condition was available Sunday evening.

Kilburn has been charged with two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, and one count of first-degree fleeing and evading. All charges are felonies.

The second vehicle, a white car, drove away, barely missing the officers, Bastin said. He didn't have a description of the driver or the vehicle.

There were an unknown number of passengers in the Tundra, but only Kilburn has been charged at this point.

Kilburn had arrest warrants in Scott County for failure to appear, Bastin said.

According to the Scott County jail, Kilburn, 22, of Georgetown, was arrested Oct. 30 on a charge of driving with a suspended or revoked license and with fleeing and evading.

Sunday's shooting happened near Ironworks Pike and Berea Road, near the Kentucky Horse Park. The Legacy Trail extends from the horse park campground into downtown Lexington.

Bastin said police "frequently" patrol the Legacy Trail on foot, but he didn't say why. Bastin said he was not aware of any reports of similar activity near the church.

"They just happened to come across it. They were walking on the Legacy Trail," Bastin said.

He identified the officers as Weslee Farley and Christopher Mason. Both were uninjured and placed on administrative leave.

"I want to make something clear. Despite the fact that we have a general understanding of the events as they occurred, an internal review of the situation will be completed, as is standard policy," Bastin said. "Any time we have an officer-involved shooting, which is thankfully very rare in this community, we want to ensure a thorough examination of the facts. During the internal review, both officers will be placed on administrative assignment."

J.D. Miller, associate minister at Berea Christian Church, said nothing like this had ever happened at the church before. Asked whether they had received previous reports of possible drug dealing or concerns about the Legacy Trail, Miller said: "We have not. ... We want the community to feel welcome."

The church has a security system but doesn't have surveillance cameras outside, Miller said.

He said his father, senior minister Jackie Miller, was called early Sunday about the case, and they worked to get word to as many of the 75 congregants as possible that services were canceled. Still, some showed up and were stunned to see police, he said.

The church has long been a gathering place for people heading to see Southern Lights, the annual holiday display at the Kentucky Horse Park.

"This year, we're going to be doing something unique — we're having a warming/welcoming tent with free hot cocoa, to give people a gathering place," Miller said Sunday. "In the past, our church has had the parking lot available, but this year we want to give them a place to feel welcome."

Miller said the case illustrated the need for a church in the area.

"We want to express our appreciation and gratitude to the Lexington police who risked their lives to do their job. We appreciate their protection," Miller said. "We have sympathy and are praying for the families of other people in the altercation. We are here for them. There is good and evil in the world, and the reason the church is here is to offer people a better way of living."

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