June 5, 2015
KSP says there is “no evidence” of criminal activity on part of police officers in death of man arrested after graduation…
ASHLAND, Ky. — A spokesperson for the Kentucky State Police Post 14 said today there will be no suspension or paid leave for the two Louisa police officers who were involved in the taseing of Billy Collins, Jr. who died during his arrest last Friday night after graduation at Lawrence County High School.
Trooper Mike Murriel said the decision to place an officer on paid leave during an investigation is up to the individual agency involved and not the KSP.
“The incident was immediately reported to our offices and the investigation is being done by the KSP,” Murriel said. “We have found no evidence of any criminal activity by the officers in our investigation so far, including on the video that was taken by the officers with their body cams.”
A member of the Collins family called Lazer offices Thursday and said he and some other family members were “nervous” about the officers being left on duty during the investigation. “My wife is afraid to go out of the house, she is leery about what might happen with these policemen still on patrol,” a family member who asked to not be identified said.
Murriel said the matter will be handed over to prosecutors for introduction to a Lawrence Grand jury to make sure all the facts are made public. He did not know when that will take place.
56 year-old Billy Collins, Jr. was involved in a minor traffic accident near LCHS just after graduation and when Sgt. Steven Wilburn of the LPD, who was attending graduation, investigated the scene Collins was arrested on three misdemeanor charges and taken to the LPD offices to await transfer to the Big Sandy Detention Center but, according to Murriel, he became “extremely beligerant” and began fighting with Wilburn and another Louisa policeman, Jordan Miller. It is not clear if Miller participated in the incident. (NOTE: It was first reported that Chief deputy Mark Wheeler took part in the arrest but we have discovered that he was not involved until after the incident. We apologize to Sgt. Wheeler for the error.)
Wilburn used an agency issued taser gun in an effort to subdue Collins but he continued attempting to attack the officers and was tased at least two more times. Murriel did not say which of the other officers tased Collins. On the third tase Collins began turning blue and went into cardiac arrest. He was later pronounced dead by Lawrence County Coroner Mike Wilson at TRMC.
Collins had a heart attack two or three weeks ago and stints were placed in blood vessels near his heart but there is no evidence that the officers were aware of his health condition at the time of the arrest.
Louisa Mayor Harold Slone said today that he had spoken with KSP and they advised that they saw nothing in the preliminary investigation that indicated any criminal acts or charges against the city or county officers.
“Therefore Paid or Unpaid leave for the officers at this time isn’t warranted. The LPD has and will continue to cooperate fully with KSP in this investigation,” Slone said. He also noted that to have adequate coverage for the city all the officers on staff are needed.
Murriel said the body cam tapes will be made available for family members to review and then will be made public as soon as the investigation is complete.
The body cams for the officers were purchased last month by the city.