Louisville, KY — When Louisville police officer Sarah Stumler, along with her fellow officers, searched an abandoned home Wednesday, looking for a suspect, they thought they’d done their jobs ensuring each room was cleared. First, they worked their way around the bottom floor. Then they cleared the top floor, before bolstering their weapons, apparently satisfied the suspect was no longer in the home.

But on their way out, Stumler noticed something which caught her attention. Suddenly, she drew her firearm, and shouted, “Show me your hands!” But no sooner had she stated the command that she fired one shot into the torso of a shadowy figure hiding behind a mattress which had been propped up against a wall. “Oh s__t!” Stumbler said, almost immediately aware she’d shot a man, maybe unintentionally.

Thirty-eight-year-old Bruce Warrick fell to the ground, still conscious, but in a lot of pain. After following protocol and handcuffing the injured man, Stumler told her fellow officers to fetch a medical kit so that they could attempt to save Warrick’s life. The female officer seemed as shocked as anyone, failing to assist her officers in treating the victim she’d just shot. And when she did begin to help treat his gunshot wound, she forgot to put on her latex gloves, another possible indicator she was not very conscious of her actions following the shooting.

Warwick repeatedly stated he was “dying,” to which Stumler responded with an apparent degree of uncertainty, “you’re fine.” Warrick wasn’t fine. In fact, he was taken into surgery where he had several of his organs removed, according to news reports, and is currently in intensive care, his prognosis still unknown.

The police officers had been called to the scene after neighbors complained they’d seen a man using drugs and entering the abandoned home, none of which is verifiable at this point. What is known, thanks to the quick release of body camera footage by the Louisville PD, is that one of their officers shot an unarmed man, who was attempting to hide from them. Warrick, if he survives his injuries, will most certainly be facing a lifetime of pain and suffering, all caused by the seemingly thoughtless actions of a police officer whose fear apparently outweighed her intelligence, at least for one brief moment.

From the body camera footage of her partner, one could clearly conclude Stumler wasted no time in firing her weapon, not taking those tense moments to even allow Warrick to comply with her demands to show his hands.

We at The Free Thought Project already know how the rest of the story will play out, because we’ve covered stories like this before on dozens of other occasions. An internal, not an external, investigation will take place. The police will determine if they acted within reason and within the law. No outside, independent review boards will be consulted. Officer Stemler will be interviewed for her side of the story, which may have not even happened yet as some departments allow officers who shoot people several days before questioning them.

The female officer will claim the man didn’t show her his hands and therefore, even if for but a split-second, she was in fear for her life, the keywords officers most often use to justify the shooting. Stemler will probably be given paid administrative leave while the investigation takes place, after which time, she will likely be given her job back.

As for Warrick, if he survives, will probably be charged with evading police, spend a month in jail, and a lifetime of living with the effects of his injuries. Maybe he’ll win some sort of settlement in civil court. But ultimately, his case will be chalked up to just another police-involved shooting, and he’ll be just another statistic.


Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine