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KSP officers involved in fatal Grant County shooting identified

Kentucky State Police getting fentanyl response kits
Posted at 2:42 PM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-11 11:00:30-05

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. — Two Kentucky State Police troopers who were involved in a shooting that led to a man's death in Grant County on Nov. 3 have been identified.

On an incident report from KSP, troopers Zachary Lusk and Douglas L. Holt are named as the officers who responded to a 911 call from Gary W. Bressler at 1:47 a.m. on Nov. 3.

The description of the report is listed as "Response to resistance investigation."

The report also lists Bressler as being suspected of using alcohol that night.

It does not indicate whether both troopers or only one opened fire, nor does it say who may have fired the shot that killed Bressler. Neither trooper involved in the shooting has been charged with a crime; KSP said their investigation remains ongoing.

A third page of the incident report, which would typically include a narrative of the incident, was not included when KSP released the first two pages.

Along with the release of the report under a public records request, KSP included a lengthy letter explaining why the full report was not sent.

"KSP is partially complying with and partially denying your November 4 request," the letter reads. "KSP is partially denying the request because Case No. 06-21-0342 remains open. Accordingly, the Commonwealth's Attorney has not declined to prosecute or concluded prosecution regarding this incident, which just occurred one day prior to your November 4 request."

Until now, KSP had not officially identified Bressler as the man who was shot, only referring to him as a "suspect."

Bressler's family spoke out, expressing concerns that KSP was investigating its own officers.

"Maybe things can get lost or missing," Edward Howell, the cousin of Bressler, said days after the shooting. “Maybe they won’t try to prosecute one of their own. I just think it needs to be in somebody else’s hands on the investigation…I’m very upset about that. That’s how things get swept under the rug.”

Howell, Bressler's cousin, lives in Arkansas and has been communicating with Bressler’s wife, Heather, and other family members who still live in Kentucky.

Bressler’s family confirmed he was the person who called 911; They think he might have been suffering a mental health crisis and was looking for help.

Bressler's wife said he was holding a sword. Based on her account, troopers got out of their vehicle and asked him to drop the sword once, then immediately started firing.

KSP have not released how many shots were fired or their investigation's version of events.

In Kentucky, the state police have jurisdiction to investigate any officer-involved shootings, including their own. The KSP Critical Incident Response Team responded to the scene in Grant County and is now handling the investigation.

The practice of law enforcement agencies investigating officer-involved shootings committed by their own personnel is becoming more rare across the country and in the Tri-State region. In 2020, neighboring Ohio Governor Mike DeWine instructed the Ohio State Highway Patrol to bring in outside, independent investigators for all trooper-involved shootings. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has a similar policy. In Ohio, these kinds of investigations are often turned over to the Attorney General’s office and his Bureau of Criminal Investigation.