ELSMERE, Ky. - Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney announced Thursday that an Elsmere police officer was justified in using deadly force during an altercation with a Park Hills, Ky., man.
Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders said the case against bicycle officer David Byrd will not go before the grand jury based on lack of probable cause.
Eric Deters filed a lawsuit on behalf of Don and Tina Godawa, parents of Michael Godawa, 22, who was shot and killed during an exchange with Officer Byrd in June.
Godawa was transported to University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Terry Daly, spokesman for the Hamilton County Coroner's Office, said Godawa died from a single gunshot wound to his chest.
It is Deters' contention that the force used by Officer Byrd was excessive given the fact Byrd received only minor treatment for minor injuries at St. Elizabeth Edgewood as a result of the interaction.
Police investigators disagreed with Deters' argument.
According to Sanders, Officer Byrd fired a shot when Michael Godawa nearly struck the officer with a vehicle while attempting to flee the scene of the Finish Line Bar on Dixie Highway around 1:30 a.m. on June 23.
The entire incident was captured on a camera on Officer Byrd’s lapel.
“The lapel camera video shows Mr. Godaway struck, or nearly struck, Officer Byrd when backing out of the parking space. There is no doubt Officer Byrd’s bicycle was, in fact, struck and run over,” Sanders wrote in a press release.
Sanders articulates in the press release that it is clear to investigators that Godawa attempted to apply deadly force against Officer Byrd, which caused the officer to react.
“Mr. Godawa’s vehicle then comes to a stop facing Dixie Highway with Officer Byrd between the car and the parking lot’s exit. Despite Officer Byrd’s loud, repeated commands to ‘Stop,’ Mr. Godawa revs that car engine and puts the transmission in a forward gear,” Det. Miles said. “Mr. Godawa clearly strikes Officer Byrd with the front of the vehicle. At this point, deadly force is being used by Mr. Godawa.”
There was some debate whether or not Godawa was aware Officer Byrd was, in fact, a police officer. Sanders stated he did not believe there was any question about Byrd’s identity.
“During the stop, Mr. Godawa never acts confused or otherwise unaware he was dealing with a police officer,” Sanders said. “Many of the bar’s patrons did not witness the events in question, however, the statements of those that did are substantially consistent. All knew Officer Byrd was a police officer.”
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