COVINGTON, Ky. – A military veteran says a $10,000 bill he received led to a 20-hour standoff with police in December.
"It was just a final straw... a click," Michael Vaughan said from the Kenton County Detention Center Tuesday, where he sat down one-on-one with WCPO reporter Kendall Herold.
Vaughan barricaded himself in his house and shot at Covington police officers throughout the night of Dec. 21 and morning of Dec. 22. Police went to his house in response to a call that Vaughan posted disturbing messages on his Facebook page.
His children were in his Michigan Avenue home for most of the incident and were only let go hours before police say Vaughan surrendered to them after setting his house on fire and getting shot in one final volley of gunfire.
Vaughan remains in the Kenton County Detention Center, awaiting trial on a charge of attempted murder of a police officer.
On Tuesday, Vaughan said the bill that came from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service was a result of “bad advice” he received while seeking treatment Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"I received bad information from the Kentucky National Guard so I didn't get the help I need," he said.
The Covington Police Department’s response to the Facebook post did not help either, Vaughan added.
"If they would've done a wellness check they could've seen the kids. But that didn't happen.”
Covington police maintain they followed proper procedure during the entire standoff.
“It was an unfortunate event for all parties involved,” Covington Police Chief Spike Jones said Tuesday when asked about Vaughan’s public statement.
Vaughan found fault with how the police handled the situation, adding he wasn’t well and of a right mind during the event.
"I lost my house, my kids, my life. I lost everything. Somebody rational would not throw away all that,” he said.
Vaughan said he waited until morning to release his three children from his house because he feared officers would mistake his 15-year-old autistic son for him and shoot him.
"He's the same height, same build as me," he said. "My job is to protect them, I wasn't going to let them out until morning."
Vaughan also expected to “be dead by noon” on Dec. 22. The SWAT situation ended around 1 p.m.
He also disputed reports by police that he set his own house on fire, saying it was an “accident.” And, he added, he did not threaten police when he surrendered.
"I tried to surrender, and was shot. I had my hands up, and was shot," he said.
Vaughan said since the arrest he received psychological treatment at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he claims he tried to commit suicide three times.
He also believes the police attempted to deny him contact with legal counsel, stating he had to use a nurse’s cellphone to contact his attorney, Eric Deters.
Upon hearing Vaughan’s accusations against his department, Jones' response was swift and simple.
“I recognize this as someone trying to taint his jury pool. We’ve been very clear from the very beginning what our mission was that day. As far as getting into a tit for tat with Mr. Vaughan and his attorney, we are not going to do that,” Jones said. “We will let the jury decide what was appropriate according to what is presented by the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.”
Vaughan said no matter the outcome of his case, he wants to make sure one thing happens.
“I want to make sure no other veterans suffer like this.”