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Looking into the moment police fatally shot a Nicholasville man

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-01 19:16:52-04

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — More than a week after police shot and killed a Nicholasville man, questions remain.

On Oct. 22, Desman LaDuke was “struggling with the desire to live,” his family said in a statement. 

LaDuke’s family called emergency services and police responded. Nicholasville police said that negotiations began soon after they responded, but that two hours later “the situation deteriorated and resulted in the loss of life.”

A video of the moment police fired a shot was shared by Sam Aguilar, an attorney working with LaDuke’s family.

The video shows three officers clustered behind a neighboring duplex, one with a rifle aimed toward LaDuke’s house. A fourth officer can be seen laying in the grass with a rifle nearby. A single shot can be heard in the video, but it’s not clear which officer fired it.

LaDuke’s family has questioned the police's choice to surround his home and point rifles at the windows.

“Desman needed help,” his family said in the statement. “He did not harm anyone.”

LEX 18 went to the scene on Tuesday to talk to witnesses and see the area.

The area where the officers stood was about 70 feet from the window where LaDuke was shot. The window has been replaced, but broken shards of glass still sit in the grass below.

The Nicholasville Police Department said in a news release on Monday that the agency is cooperating with Kentucky State Police during the investigation of the shooting.

“Following prolonged and persistent attempts to negotiate with Mr. LaDuke, he appeared in the rear window of his residence pointing two handguns,” police said in the statement. “Despite repeated pleas and orders for him to drop the weapons, he ultimately aimed both handguns at nearby officers.”

A neighbor told LEX 18 Tuesday that they did hear police tell LaDuke, “drop your weapon, we don’t want to hurt you” a minute or so before police fired. The witness said they did not hear another command in the seconds immediately before the shot was fired.

Some officers with the Nicholasville Police Department are issued body cameras, and the department told LEX 18 that some of the officers on scene were wearing them. The department would not specify how many officers at the scene were wearing cameras, or where they were when the shot was fired.

Multiple different neighbors told LEX 18 on Tuesday that LaDuke was known as a kind presence and could often be seen playing basketball or football with the young kids in the neighborhood.

In a statement last week, LaDuke’s family remembered him as someone who had an amazing personality.

“Desman was incredible with children,” the family said in the statement. “He did not cause trouble. He was a hard worker. He would do anything for anyone. He had no criminal record. We have had former teachers, friends, and coworkers of Desman reach out to us since Saturday to share their memories made with him. They are all positive and full of love, unselfishness, and joy.”

LEX 18 Investigates will continue to look into what happened.