LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Police were responding to a suicidal subject on Green Street in Nicholasville on October 22 which led to the death of 22-year-old Desman LaDuke. Now, this family is standing with the Lexington Fayette County NAACP, looking for answers.
Kahnan Leslie, a family member, says, "In this whole situation all that keeps going through my mind is, what lead them to think the way that they did, that lead to the actions that they upheld? The only question in their mind from my point of view is stop trying to kill yourself or we're going to kill you."
Desman's family has released statements explaining, "Yes, Desman had a gun. So it wouldn't be surprising if an officer saw in Desman's room that he was holding a gun. But he was only a threat to himself. Officers pointing rifles at him certainly didn't deescalate things. It made it worse."
The NAACP is calling for more transparency from the department. Lexington Fayette County NAACP President Whit Whitaker says, "We are demanding that the reports be released, demanding that all footage be released, we're demanding that police statements that have been made be released. We are asking the community in Nicholasville, what do you stand for?"
LaDuke’s family explains that he went through a lot in his life, including the loss of his mother and brother. Now, they want to raise more awareness about mental health in minority communities and on how law enforcement works with people who are in need. The family has released the following statement:
Leslie says, "He's had a lot of loss in his life, and throughout it all, Desman has been a leader for his family, and siblings, and people that he's cared about. All that he wanted to do was take the hurt away from everybody and what that lead to was him harboring all that hurt himself — which led to the episode that he had. That's why this mental health needs to be talked about, it needs to be handled with care —- because all he did was want to take the pain away from everybody.”
This family says they'll continue fighting for answers — but for now, they want this community to know what a positive light Desman was to everyone that he knew.
Yesterday the Nicholasville Police Department released this statement: