NewsLEX 18 Investigates


A look at the training of the officers on scene when Desman LaDuke was shot

Posted at 7:00 PM, Dec 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-13 19:11:39-05

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — After Desman LaDuke was shot and killed by police in Nicholasville on Oct. 22, his family questioned the way the situation was handled.

LaDuke had been having a mental health crisis when police were called. A two-hour stand-off followed, and it ended when a police officer fatally shot LaDuke.

The Nicholasville Police Department said LaDuke was shot after he aimed two guns at officers.

LaDuke’s family has questioned why LaDuke’s mental health crisis was met with a SWAT response. A short cell phone video taken by a bystandershowed officers were in place with rifles aimed at LaDuke’s window before he was shot.

The police department said in a statement that the officers on scene had tried to negotiate with LaDuke, and that two crisis negotiators were on scene. The two were trained to deal with people suffering from a mental health crisis, according to the department.

LEX 18 requested the personnel files of all 22 Nicholasville police officers who responded that day to the Green Street scene where LaDuke is shot to learn more about their training.

Three of the 22 officers had Crisis Intervention Team training, which aims at helping officers work with people suffering from a mental health crisis. Two of the three had also completed 80 hours of crisis negotiation training, according to the personnel files.

Seven of the officers on scene had completed an 80-hour SWAT Basics course, according to the files.

After officers in Kentucky graduate basic training, they are required to get 40 hours of in-service training every year throughout their career. The Department of Criminal Justice Training has a catalog of courses that officers can choose from.

In Kentucky, police officers are not required to take a full Crisis Intervention Team course.

Joseph Horton, the officer police say shot LaDuke, had not completed a full Crisis Intervention Team training course, according to his file.

Horton did complete an 80-hour SWAT Basics course in 2017, according to the file.

Crisis intervention skills are taught during officers’ basic training, according to the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training.

“DOCJT training incorporates a wide range of crisis intervention skills and knowledge into all facets of law enforcement instruction,” the department said. “Basic Training incorporates various levels of de-escalation, communication, mental-illness recognition signs and crisis response throughout the 20-week curriculum.”

Nicholasville police say that since LaDuke was shot on Oct. 22, they have hosted several days of mental health crisis training for all first responders – police, firefighters and EMTs. The department also said that they are continually reviewing and changing its policies and practices.