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More questions on how concerns about former Frankfort detective were handled

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Posted at 7:05 PM, Jul 09, 2024

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — One of the people who had a run-in with the former Frankfort police detective at the center of a recent federal lawsuit says he got a response last week about the status of a complaint he says he filed last summer.

The former detective, Guss Curtis, was sued in May by a woman who says he entered her home without a warrant while on a welfare check last summer.

He resigned from the Frankfort Police Department weeks after that 2023 incident and moved on to Boyle County Sheriff’s Office, where he was fired after a few months.

Two weeks before the incident that led to the lawsuit, Curtis allegedly asked Nicholasville police to go to a man’s house to assist in a “criminal investigation.” But it turned out that it was over a personal matter to collect money from the man.

Body camera footage showed Curtis, over speakerphone, telling the man to give the Nicholasville officer the $525 he was owed. Curtis can be heard threatening to get a warrant if the man didn’t pay the money either on the spot or by the next day at 5 p.m.

The man, who did not want to be identified, says he filed a complaint about the incident with the Frankfort police department back when it happened. But when he went back to the department after LEX 18’s story last month, he was told that they had no record of the complaint.

He showed LEX 18 a letter he says he was sent by the Frankfort Police Department chief last week.

The letter stated that no one in the chief’s office ever received a formal complaint form about the incident last summer, and that the captain never received any follow-up inquiry about the man’s conversation and concerns.

In Curtis’ Frankfort file, there’s a 2023 email from the captain to Nicholasville police asking for more information about the incident, but there’s no record of any further investigation.

The man previously told LEX 18 that after he made his complaint last summer, the captain looking into the incident told him nothing could be done because both he and Curtis were at fault.

The chief’s letter last week went on to say that since Curtis is no longer employed by the department, they are unable to do anything about the incident last summer.

City’s response

When LEX 18 tried to ask the Frankfort Police Chief about the Nicholasville incident and the other allegations against Curtis, he said to ask city leaders.

So LEX 18 went to Frankfort’s City Hall over a week ago to try to talk with city leaders about why they weren’t made aware of the reported issues with Curtis, and whether the Frankfort Police Department should have turned over information about him to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council.

The city directed LEX 18 to an attorney representing them in the lawsuit filed against Curtis and the city by a woman who says Curtis unlawfully entered her home without a warrant.

“The City and Frankfort Police Department take great care to comply with all mandatory reporting requirements, including but not limited to those promulgated by KLEC,” attorney Carol Schureck Petitt said in a statement. “Specifically with regard to former Officer Curtis, there were no pending “issues” requiring a report to KLEC at the time that Curtis voluntarily left his employment with Frankfort PD.”

2022 felony charges dismissed

A year before the incidents last summer, a Frankfort woman says she had her own incident with Curtis.

Natalee Cleveland says Curtis charged her and her sister with felony assault after a fight at a Frankfort restaurant in 2022.

Cleveland said that the woman who said she was assaulted contacted Curtis, a detective, directly to report the assault. Court records also state that the woman contacted Curtis directly.

“What I think he should've done is what police protocol is, to have her come in and file a complaint or a uniform officer go to her to file a complaint, and then it go through those proper channels, but that never occurred,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland was charged with second-degree assault, which means a person is accused of causing serious injury to the victim. It’s a Class C felony charge punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Cleveland said photos in the case showed the woman had minor injuries.

Cleveland also said that she and her sister didn’t assault the woman at all. A video of the fight shows someone else hitting the woman, and at one point, Cleveland can be seen leaning over toward the woman before being pulled away. Cleveland said that she was trying to separate the fight in the video.

“I never had a warrant for my arrest or anything like that, he arrested me right there on the spot in front of my job,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland also questioned something Curtis appears to have said during an interview with the alleged victim.

In the recorded interview, the woman is talking about being hit in the neck and face before saying, “but she was drunk too so she wasn’t really hitting me that hard.”

At that point, Curtis can be heard repeating the word “neck” before whispering, “don’t say anything (inaudible).”

Cleveland feels Curtis was coaching the alleged victim by trying to discourage her from saying something.

The charges against Cleveland and her sister ended up being dismissed without prejudice.

Moving forward, Cleveland hopes there’s a change in how the police department looks into citizen complaints and concerns about officers.

“I want our police department to look at this, take a hard look at this sand at themselves and what they could have done,” Cleveland said.