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Family still seeking answers after Kentucky State Police trooper shoots, kills man

Cellphone held as evidence for 40 days
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Posted at 8:51 AM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 11:38:00-05

GRANT COUNTY, Ky. — The family of a man shot and killed by a Kentucky State Police trooper in Grant County in early November are still searching for answers, and their attorney is now raising concerns with how the agency is handling the investigation.

“They’re trying to get along with their lives,” Paul Hill, the attorney for the estate of Gary Bressler Sr., said Tuesday. “The children who witnessed the horrific event are back in school.”

It has not been easy for the family to try and get back to normal after they say they watched Kentucky State Police troopers shoot and kill Bressler in their own front lawn. Their attorney now echoes the concerns they shared with WCPO shortly after the incident that Kentucky State Police does not outfit its troopers with body cameras and that the agency handles use-of-force investigations into its own personnel itself.

“Both of those are obvious concerns,” Hill said. “The family is hopeful that Kentucky State Police will conduct a legitimate investigation into what happened and what compelled this officer to shoot from 40-50 feet away.”

Another concern for the attorney is the fact that KSP investigators are still in possession of Heather Bressler’s cellphone 40 days after seizing it through a search warrant. Heather told WCPO previously that she called 911 that morning, which is why Kentucky State Police collected the phone in the first place. Hill does not think it is appropriate or necessary for the phone to be withheld for this long.

“There’s no information, in my opinion, that could be legitimately found within her phone,” he said. “To me, it’s adding insult to injury to what they’re doing to this family. It’s a bad way to start a trusting relationship.”

In a statement provided to WCPO on Tuesday, a spokesperson for KSP said it collected the phones to look into details of who requested a law enforcement response that morning.

“The cellphones for both Heather Bressler and Gary Bressler were collected with a search warrant into the details of who made the 911 call requesting a law enforcement response,” Captain Paul Blanton with the KSP Public Affairs Branch said in the statement. “It was explained to the attorney that the KSP Electronic Crimes Branch would finish examining both phones this week and, after approval of the Commonwealth Attorney, returned to Mrs. Bressler.”

Hill provided a response he received from the KSP Office of Legal Services about the matter. Although it was also issued Tuesday, the information provided to Hill said investigators “expect to be finished with the phones within the next few weeks.”

Kentucky State Police have said in a public statement about the incident that troopers were originally responding to a 911 call “asking for law enforcement assistance.” According to Heather, both she and Gary called 911 before troopers arrived around 1:45 that morning, but she could not recall specific details about her call. She does not know what Gary said on the phone.

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