Officers with three local agencies who were involved in a June 5 fatal shooting of a fleeing suspect have been cleared to return to duty.
Terry Geoghegan, commonwealth’s attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit that includes Nelson County, issued letters last week to the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, Bardstown Police Department and Kentucky State Police clearing the officers to return from his office’s perspective.
Geoghegan wrote that after he had reviewed the circumstances and scene, he believed “all officers acted professionally within the bounds of the law and were forced to use deadly force in self-protection and in the protection of others.”
Bardstown Police Chief Steve Uram confirmed that Sgt. Jeremy Cauley returned to duty. Sheriff Ed Mattingly said one of his deputies returned and another returns early this week. Two of his deputies, Sgt. Mike Clark and Brandon Bryan, along with Cauley and four state troopers were involved in the shootout.
Mattingly said the deputies were offered counseling and other services that are normally made available to officers involved in fatal incidents. He said he offered them as much time as they needed, but they wanted to return as soon as possible.
He praised their actions during those early morning hours of June 5, after Charles Edgar Mullins had led police on a car chase for two-plus hours from Louisville through Bullitt and other counties before his car was disabled on Springfield Road between the two intersections with Pottershop Loop. The chase started in Louisville when Louisville Metro officers tried to pull him over for expired tags.
Mullins allegedly fled the car with a rifle and handgun, and pointed the rifle at the officers. He had reportedly fired on officers during the chase, as well.
According to a KSP summary released shortly after the shooting, officers took cover and Mullins fled into the woods. He was tracked by Cauley’s K9 to a dry creek bed where he tried to ambush the officers. The officers returned fire, hitting him multiple times.
“They were brave,” Mattingly said of his deputies and other officers involved. “I don’t know that I’ve seen anything so courageous in all my time.”
Other officers who were in the area that night but did not witness the actual shooting said it sounded like a fire fight from a combat area.
“They were lucky and God was looking out for them,” Mattingly said.
Uram credited teamwork for making sure no officers were harmed.
“It showed how the relationship between the police department and the sheriff’s office has grown stronger, and we’re working more closely every day,” Uram said.
Uram said such incidents are why training is important for officers. His department has been hosting simulator training on use of deadly force.
“You never know when something like this is going to happen during the calls we get every day.”
Geoghegan said in a statement to The Standard that it is standard practice for the commonwealth’s attorney to review any police shooting as soon as possible after it happens. If there were any indications that officers acted improperly, the case would be presented to a grand jury.
Geoghegan spoke with a state police special response team that was conducting a forensic examination of the shooting shortly after the man was killed, as well as the sheriff.
“It was obvious the officers acted in self defense,” he said.
The special response team is still finalizing its report, which could take up to two more weeks, according to KSP Post 4 Spokesman Trooper Jeff Gregory. Geoghegan said if the final report “shows anything unusual” he could present it to the grand jury.