Man shot by police was released from hospital, now back in emergency room

Joseph Kilburn, 22, of Georgetown
Joseph Kilburn, 22, of Georgetown

Joseph Kilburn, the man shot by Lexington police almost two weeks ago and briefly released from the hospital on his own recognizance, was back in the emergency room Wednesday in critical condition.

A University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital spokeswoman, who confirmed on Tuesday that Kilburn had been released, said shortly after noon Wednesday that he was back in the hospital emergency room and in critical condition.

It wasn't immediately known whether Kilburn was suffering from his original gunshot wounds or some other medical problem.

Kilburn initially was rushed to UK immediately after being shot in the head and face in early morning hours of Nov. 23. He was never held in jail. A form signed by Fayette District Judge T. Bruce Bell and filed in court said only that he had been released on his own recognizance.

Courts sometimes release defendants with serious medical problems because it is simpler and cheaper than trying to keep them in jail.

Kilburn, 22, of Georgetown is scheduled to appear in district court Jan. 7.

He is charged with one count of fleeing or evading police, and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment against a police officer.

Lexington police say Kilburn was shot by officers Weslee Farley and Christopher Mason about 4:25 a.m. Nov. 23, when he allegedly drove at them in a Toyota Tundra pickup. It happened in the parking lot of the Berea Christian Church, near the Legacy Trail in rural Fayette County.

Police have said that several other people were there, but only Kilburn has been charged.

Mason and Farley remain on administrative assignment while an investigation into the shooting continues.

Police have revealed relatively few details about what happened, citing that investigation. But they have said that they think a drug transaction was under way when the officers approached the pickup.

The district court issued a search warrant the day after the shooting. Documents that were filed in court Tuesday indicate that officers wanted to search the church premises and the pickup for cell phones, drugs or drug paraphernalia that "would support that the driver or occupants of the vehicle were engaged in narcotics trafficking activity."

According to police, Mason and Farley were on foot patrol along the Legacy Trail on the morning of Nov. 23 when they noticed the pickup and a Chevrolet Malibu and became suspicious. An affidavit filed with the district court on Tuesday describes what happened next.

Mason and Farley "got out with suspicious activity in the Berea Christian Church parking lot," where the pickup and the Chevy were parked, "each occupied by several subjects." the affidavit says.

When the officers approached, the Chevy drove away and the pickup then "accelerated at the officers," according to the document. It says the "officers discharged their firearms at the driver ... striking him in the head and face."

According to the affidavit, Kilburn was arrested while trying to run away. He was rushed to UK Hospital while the other occupants in the truck were interviewed by detectives, it says.

The document also states that a Mason jar "containing what appeared to be marijuana" was in plain view inside the truck cab.

When police later searched the truck, they found the jar, a makeup bag with marijuana residue, glass pipes, cellphones and torn plastic baggies, according to court documents.

However, police still decline to talk about many details of the shooting.

Among other things, police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts declined to say how close the truck came to the officers.

"I can't say anything other than it was very close, because that is all part of the investigation," she said.

Since the shooting, police officials have refused to say whether both Farley and Mason fired shots or only one of them did, and they have declined to say how many shots there were. Roberts declined to answer those questions again Tuesday.

Asked whether police have identified the people in the Chevy Malibu that fled the scene on Nov. 23, Roberts said only that officers are working on that.

Some residents have questioned why the officers didn't shoot out the truck's tires rather than aiming at Kilburn. Roberts said police are trained to shoot at the driver in such situations, not at the vehicle.

"The vehicle is not the threat; it's the person operating the vehicle," Roberts said. "The purpose is to stop the threat."

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