'I'm praying for the family:' Neighbors react to officer-involved shooting investigation

Posted at 6:23 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 18:23:56-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX `18) — Neighbors are reacting after Lexington police shot and killed an armed man Sunday night.

Five Lexington police officers are on administrative leave after the deadly shooting while an investigation takes place.

Some people who lived nearby scrambled to safety as officers were en route to the 600 block of Gay for a report of an armed, suicidal man shooting a gun.

Lexington police say when they arrived, a 43-year-old man walked out of this home with a handgun and a rifle, shooting at them. Five officers proceeded to shoot and kill him.

"I think the cops had the right to shoot him. It was either kill or be killed," said Velma Walkins who lives nearby, and heard the shots.

Similar incidents have been referred to as "suicide by cop." It's a term often used to describe an incident where a suicidal person intentionally tries to provoke officers to shoot them in self-defense or to protect civilians.

The unique circumstance sparked a deeper conversation within the neighborhood about mental health.

"The fact that person held a gun to his own head or her own tells me something's going on by that point, and that his family could not help him, which is why they probably called," said Karen Million who lives nearby.

She and neighbor Mara Wallace, hope people send thoughts and prayers to the victims, Frederick Clinton Miller, family.

"He could have come out without the guns. He came out with guns. So that part there says to me that he was hurting past the point of-but I feel for his family and friends because they must be in a lot of pain over this," said Wallace.

While Lexington police say they respond to calls regarding suicidal people every week, they say a majority of the time they're able to help the person.

Even though LPD doesn't track "suicide by cop" incidents, when we looked, we couldn't find any police shootings involving a person who was suicidal in the last five years.

This time ended much differently.

"I'm praying for the family because I know how mental illness can be and it touches everyone," said Millon.

But while so many of these neighbors are thinking of the family of the man who died, they're also thinking about the police officers involved.

"I feel for the police involved because they were caught between a rock and a hard place. I'm sure they were hoping they could have resolved it otherwise," said Wallace.

State police are investigating, and when they finish, Lexington police will also review what happened.

If the reviews find that policies were violated and/or if charges are filed, those would be posted on their transparency page.

If you or someone you know is having difficult thoughts, there is help available. Call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-2-7-3-TALK.

It's free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.