Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Procedures
There have been many questions and comments from community leaders, the media and the general public regarding the tactics and procedures of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) when investigating an officer-involved shooting. In an effort to build trust throughout our community, we believe it is important to fully explain the officer-involved shooting investigation process.
There are multiple layers of an officer-involved shooting investigation, including both internal and external investigators and reviews to ensure a thorough, accountable investigation is conducted. A complete, thorough, multi-layered investigation can take several months for all investigators and agencies to complete. While our digital age allows us to often review officers’ actions through body camera footage within hours of an incident, only through a complete investigation can we fully ensure that the use of deadly force was justified, that all of our policies, procedures and training were followed, and, if needed, any future training needs and improved procedures are enacted.
Officer-Involved Shooting Response
Investigation by the Public Integrity Unit (PIU)
PIU investigators are:
- Experienced investigators with the rank of sergeant or above.
- Trained extensively in crime scene and use of force investigations.
PIU investigators conduct meticulous investigation of crime scene by:
- Working with the LMPD Crime Scene Unit (CSU) to collect evidence, photograph the scene and create a 3D laser generated map of the scene.
Working with specialists regarding the forensic analysis of the evidence, collection of video surveillance, etc.
News Media Are Proactively Notified & Provided Timely Communications About the Incident
- The LMPD Media and Public Relations Office proactively notifies the news media of an officer-involved incident in order for them to respond to the scene.
- A press briefing is conducted at the scene by the Chief of Police or member of the Chief’s Executive Staff to provide initial information of the incident.
- Within 24 to 72 hours of the incident, the Chief holds a press conference to present any updates to the media regarding the current stage of the investigation.
- The Chief also explains the investigative process, identifies the units involved and provides a preliminary time frame of when the investigation may be completed.
- In situations deemed by the Chief to be a matter of great public concern, the Chief may release investigative details or evidence to provide transparency and context. Any potential releases are governed by relevant Kentucky law.
Independent Investigation of the Deceased by the Jefferson County Coroner's Office
- A deputy Jefferson County Coroner responds to the location of the deceased and conducts an independent investigation of the body.
Independent Forensic Investigation of Fatal Shootings by the Kentucky State Medical Examiner
- The Medical Examiner conducts an autopsy.
- Creates a report of findings which include the forensic analysis of the body and the injuries.
A Forensic Investigation of Non-Fatal Officer Involved Shootings by Forensic Physician
- The forensic physician is used if the shooting does not result in a death.
- Conducts an analysis of the injuries.
- Creates a report of those findings.
Independent Review by the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney
- The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney reviews the investigation to determine if further investigation is needed and/or if criminal charges are required.
Independent Review by a Grand Jury
- If the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney determines charges may be necessary, they will present the case to the Grand Jury for possible indictment.
Psychological Evaluation & Peer Counseling
- In every case, the involved officer is relieved from duty to provide an opportunity for peer counseling and a psychological evaluation.
Independent Review by the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability
The completed investigation is presented for external review by the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability:
- The Citizens Commission reviews investigations of police shootings and incidents involving the loss of life due to police action.
- The Commission will advise the Mayor and Chief of Police on matters relating to the quality and adequacy of the investigation
- The Commission may make recommendations on changes in police policy and training.
- The Commission consists of a Chairperson and 10 members, appointed by the Mayor and approved by Metro Council.
Investigation by the Professional Standards Unit
- Upon adjudication of the criminal case, the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) conducts an administrative, internal investigation to determine whether any LMPD policies and procedures had been violated.
- PSU investigators are commanding officers with the rank of sergeant or above
Review of & Final Disposition of Internal Investigation by the Chief of Police
- Upon completion of the PSU investigation, the findings of the investigation are then submitted to the Chief of Police for his review and determination of level of discipline, if warranted.
- The Chief has the ultimate authority to impose discipline, including demotion and termination/discharge.
- Discipline may also take the form of remedial training, counseling or punitive actions.
External Review by the Louisville Metro Police Merit Board at a Public Hearing & Executive Session Concerning Disciplinary Actions Imposed
- Should an officer be dismissed, suspended, demoted or appeal the discipline imposed by the Chief of Police, the Louisville Metro Police Merit Board will hold a public hearing to review the case.
- The Board is comprised of five (5) members who are appointed by the Mayor, subject to the approval of the Metro Council. The Mayor serves as an ex-officio member of the Board and is entitled to vote only in instances where a tie vote has occurred.
- After the hearing, the Board moves to an executive session to discuss the evidence introduced at the hearing and to make its determination and conclusion.