SCOTT COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18)– Hundreds of pages of the investigation into Deputy Jaime Morales’ shooting have been released. The documents reveal concerns the deputy had about his team’s training.
Kentucky State Police have closed the case, but revealed that their investigation showed a fellow officer fired the shot that hit Morales, partially paralyzing him.
A U.S. Marshal found 57-year-old Edward Reynolds, a wanted bank robber, asleep at a rest stop along I-75. Officers and deputies came to help assist in the arrest. Investigation records reveal that their plan was to block Reynolds’ car in and surround him. A witness stated that “five or six officers” were on one side of the vehicle and one officer was on the other side.
A witness said that they tried to get Reynolds to open the door. “Pulling on the door handle. Beating on the windows.”
Police say that Reynolds pulled out a gun, which prompted them to open fire.
“I scream on top of my lungs ‘he’s got a gun.’ ‘He’s got a gun’ or ‘he’s got a weapon’. One of the two,” an officer said in the investigation.
Morales was hit and records show he knew it was one of his guys that accidentally hit him. Three days after the shooting, the deputy was interviewed at the hospital, and he told investigators that when he was hit, the suspect had been neutralized, meaning the shot did not come from Reynolds.
When State Police closed the investigation, they said they are not sure whose bullet hit Morales, but in the hundreds of pages of documents released, it’s clear Morales told investigators he had concerns about his team’s training.
Morales said, “I was more afraid of getting shot by one of the guys that was inexperienced than getting shot by actual bad guys.”
He also told investigators that training was inconsistent. He said that officers were trained by different groups. He took his basic SWAT class with Lexington Police which he says is “very shield heavy” when it comes to vehicle assaults. Morales told investigators, “we didn’t even use shields that day.”
Morales also revealed he only had his soft body armor on that night. When asked if he had his hard armor panels with him, he said he asked his leaders if he would need them.
“I was like ‘do y’all think I’m gonna need it?’ and they said, ‘nah, you’ll be alright, you don’t need it’,” said Morales.
Criminal justice experts say that hard armor is a must in situations like that.
“That would almost be like wearing your socks and your shoes, if you’re a member of one of these units. It’s just a given. That type of ballistic protection under SRT circumstances – any of them – that’s an automatic,” said Department of Criminal Justice Training Commissioner Alex Payne.