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Manslaughter Trial Continues For Ky. Police Officer

March 12, 2004
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Manslaughter Trial Continues For Ky. Police Officer

The Lexington Herald-Leader

LIBERTY, Ky. (AP) -- An unarmed domestic-violence suspect did not present enough danger to a Liberty police officer to justify his fatal shooting, a prosecutor said.

The trial of Danny Cook Jr., 40, continued Saturday with closing arguments in Carter County Circuit Court. He is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the July 30 shooting of 52-year-old Leon Brown.

Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright told jurors Friday that Brown did not try to obtain a weapon or hit Cook other than throwing a dinner plate at him.

"Officer Cook was mistaken in his belief in the need to use deadly force," Wright said.

Cook shot Brown once in the chest after responding to a call that Brown was involved in a dispute with his girlfriend, Freda Wilson.

But the officer's attorney, Steve Schroering, said Cook acted in self-defense. He said the 6-foot-5 Brown was drunk and refused to cooperate with the officer. He then hit Cook with the plate after withstanding a blast of pepper spray.

Schroering said Cook could not see Brown's hands and noted two knives on the counter. Cook thought Brown had a knife when he turned around.

"He was in absolute fear for his life," Schroering said.

Following the prosecution's case, Judge James G. Weddle denied Schroering's motion to acquit Cook. He faces a sentence of five to 10 years if convicted of the manslaughter charge.

Cook has been on unpaid suspension since the shooting, Chief Ron Whited said.

Brown had a lengthy arrest record, including prior charges of resisting arrest.

Witnesses testified that he had been upset because he thought a former girlfriend planned to prevent him from seeing their daughter.

Brown lived with Wilson at her apartment but sometimes stayed across the street at the home of his mother, Dorothy Brown.

Police visited the neighborhood five times prior to the shooting because Leon Brown and Wilson were arguing. But Liberty police Sgt. Joey Miller testified he did not arrest Brown because Wilson said she had not been assaulted.

Cook responded to the final call after a dispatcher said a woman was screaming on the phone.

Kentucky State Police Detective Bill Gregory testified that when Cook arrived, Brown was heading to his mother's house.

Cook went to arrest Brown, but Dorothy Brown said she ordered Cook to leave after he barged into her house without asking permission. She said her son did not resist Cook, though she heard him say he wouldn't go with the officer.

Associated PressCopyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Wright argued that Cook should have tried to subdue Leon Brown by hitting him with a baton instead of shooting him.

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