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Ky. police chief fatally shot by man in back of patrol car

By Jeffrey McMurray

The Associated Press
Read Officer Down: Police Chief Randy Lacy

Kentucky State Police Lt. Phil Crumpton, right, and Clay City Mayor Jimmy Caudill speak during a news conference concerning the shooting death of Police Chief Randy Lacy Wednesday. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
CLAY CITY, Ky.  A trusting, small-town police chief  the city's only officer was fatally shot Wednesday after he cuffed a suspect's hands in the front instead of the back, authorities said.

It was a practice that Chief Randy Lacy, 55, often used when arresting people he knew, said state police spokesman Phil Crumpton. The suspect, who had been stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, had a long criminal history, records show.

It wasn't clear how the suspect accessed a gun. But Lacy kept an extra gun in his cruiser between the front seat and the console, said Greg Adams, a Powell County sheriff's deputy. Crumpton would not confirm that.

``Randy was a good officer,'' Adams said. ``He did trust people a little too much.''

A county judge-executive said earlier that Lacy was shot from the back seat of his cruiser, but authorities did not confirm that.

Investigators look into the back seat of the police vehicle where Chief Lacy was shot to death on Main Street. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
Charges were pending against Jamie Barnett, 37, state police spokesman Phil Crumpton said. It wasn't clear whether the suspect had a lawyer.

Lacy had been police chief of this town of 1,300 in the Appalachian foothills since 2004. He began serving in law enforcement in 1985.

``He was respected by all the police officers, and he was even loved by the people he was putting in jail,'' said the victim's brother Garland Lacy, a court bailiff and sheriff's chaplain.

Lacy would sometimes stop and buy suspects snacks or cigarettes before taking them to jail, Adams said.

He was the only law officer for the town, which was looking to fill two vacancies.

Barnett has a long criminal history, according to records from the Powell County Circuit Court Clerk's office.

He was charged with assaulting a police officer in 1994, according to the records. In April, he was charged with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and disorderly conduct, court records said. Records also show the April 9 drunken driving arrest was his second such offense.

Lacy's death upset people throughout the town, said Brenda Patrick, whose mother used to live next door to the chief.

``Everybody's shocked by it. The town sort of went wild today, I think,'' she said in a phone interview. ``It's like a blanket of sorrow spread over the neighborhood.''

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