Grand jury finds no wrongdoing by officers in shooting death of unarmed man

PoliceOne Staff Report
() -- A Jefferson County grand has found no criminal wrongdoing by four officers involved with the shooting of a man, Rodney Abernathy, who had struggled with the officers.

"As a result of its thorough review of this violent incident and its examination of all available evidence, the grand jury chooses not to indict anyone for criminal wrongdoing in Mr. Abernathy's loss of life," according to a jurors report released Nov. 29.

The jury's findings were in agreement with another investigation by a six-member panel of attorneys and detectives in the commonwealth attorney's office.

"When you get into the facts of the situation you see how he (Abernathy) was repeatedly attacking the officers, trying to take guns from them (but) not really trying to hurt them," Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Stengel told the Louisville Courier Journal. "It's our belief that he was actually trying to get them to kill him."

Abernathy, 37, was unarmed when three of the four police officers involved shot him 15 times during an altercation in Chickasaw Park last June. He died of a gunshot wound to the head.

An internal investigation into the shooting is still pending, Detective Bill Keeling told the Courier Journal.

The FBI is also investigating to determine whether any civil rights violations occurred.

The attorney for Abernathy's family, David Friedman, told the newspaper on Nov. 29 that the family was disappointed by the decision, "We'll consider what steps the family wishes to take."

According to official accounts, the officers repeatedly attempted to subdue Abernathy with their batons and pepper spray before resorting to deadly force.

"No one feels Mr. Abernathy should have died, but no one could find a place in which any police officer did anything wrong," Stengel told the newspaper.

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