Nicholasville, KY — As frequent readers of the Free Thought Project understand, calling police for help with a family member suffering from a mental illness, can be a dangerous decision. All too often, officers, who are trained to kill, show up to calls in which people need help, not bullets. Unfortunately, as was the case with Desman LaDuke, 22, he received the latter.
LaDuke's family is now demanding justice and answers after police showed up last month during a call for help and executed LaDuke from outside the home as he sat alone in his bedroom.
According to Kentucky State Police, Nicholasville police received a call from LaDuke's family notifying them that LaDuke was suicidal and needed help. A SWAT team and a crisis negotiation team responded to the scene but it appears SWAT was in control.
Police claim that after a two-hour-long standoff, they "confronted an armed individual" which resulted in the loss of life. According to the family, however, no such confrontation ever happened and a police sniper shot LaDuke in the chest from outside his home as he sat alone in his room, posing a threat to no one.
The family is now speaking out and telling the media that the original police claims are false.
“There has been very limited information released regarding the circumstances of Saturday. Much of what has been said is false. And the police have done nothing to correct it. Desman was alone in his home and inside his bedroom when he was shot, through the bedroom window, by a police officer positioned outside the home. Any suggestion that officers made entry into Desman’s home, were threatened [sic] inside the home by Desman, and shot Desman from inside the home, are false,” a letter from the family states.
According to the letter, LaDuke was struggling “with the desire to live” on October 22, and the family called the police to help him but police instead responded by ”sending the SWAT/ERT unit.”
When the family asked to go inside to talk to LaDuke during the standoff, police refused to allow them in, escalating to deadly force instead.
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“After an hour and a half, while Desman was inside his home by himself, an officer shot through his bedroom window. The bullet struck Desman in the chest. Officers made entry and then proceeded to drag Desman across the ground through the bedroom, the hallway, the living room, and the kitchen. Officers left the heavy trail of blood on the floor for the family to discover hours later,” the letter says.
Adding credibility to the family's claims is the fact that police do not dispute them, according to LEX18. They simply stated that the situation "deteriorated" and "resulted in a loss of life."
"It is always difficult for family members and our community when a tragic event like this occurs," said Chief Todd Justice of the Nicholasville Police Department. "Our officers do their best in difficult situations like this, with immediate threats to the safety of themselves and others."
Exactly why police felt the desire to execute a man alone in his own bedroom remains a mystery but, apparently, it was the Nicholasville Police Department's "best" solution.
The Kentucky State Police are now investigating the incident.
In the letter released by the family, they said that LaDuke struggled after his mother died in a tragic car accident only to have his brother drown several years later. Although he struggled through these tragedies, however, the family says he was a caring selfless person who never hurt anyone.
"Desman was the running back during East Jessamine’s magical 2016 district title run. Desman was incredible with children. 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," the family said.
UPDATE: Bystander video was released, showing a police officer with a rifle shooting from around the corner of an adjacent building.