MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY (KFVS) - Kentucky State Police asked to conduct a special investigation after a mother sought charges against a McCracken County deputy she says assaulted her son at the county fair.
The incident happened on Friday night, June 29 at Carson Park.
The sheriff's office said a deputy tried to resolve a situation where juveniles were allegedly seen removing soft drinks from a golf cart being used for fair business that was briefly left unattended by fair personnel.
According to the sheriff's office, the situation escalated and the deputy had to use physical force.
Sheriff Matt Carter said when the mother of the juvenile involved learned about the use of physical force, she reported to the McCracken County Sheriff's Office personnel that she believed that her son was assaulted by the deputy and that she intended to have the deputy criminally charged.
The sheriff said that's when the sheriff's office started the internal administrative investigation.
According to the sheriff, after meeting with her on Monday, July 2, the mother of the juvenile was told and encouraged by him to contact the Kentucky State Police to investigate her allegations of assault.
He said the mother then went to McCracken County Attorney Sam Clymer's office seeking criminal charges against the deputy. She was told that it is the office's policy that prior to the evaluation of any criminal charge against anyone, an investigation must be completed by a law enforcement agency so that the attorney's office can be informed of all facts and circumstances involved.
According to Sheriff Carter, Clymer personally reached out to KSP to formally request an independent special investigation into the allegations.
The sheriff said his office completed an internal investigation that consisted of a review by an internal affairs investigator.
The investigator reportedly looked at all audio/video recorded materials about the event and conducted independent interviews with seven people that witnessed it. Those interviews included the deputy involved, the deputies that assisted, fair personnel and juveniles that were there at the time.
Sheriff's office internal investigation
According to the sheriff's office, Carson Park is owned by McCracken County and they provide deputies to attend the fair at all hours that it is open to the public "in order to maintain a positive law enforcement presence, to maintain order and to protect public property and private persons from any potential danger or harm that may arise."
The investigation showed that a golf car loaded with soft drinks was briefly left unattended while a member of the fair personnel walked over to close a gate behind people who had left the fair after a fight had broken out. The driver of the golf cart was taking the soda to a concession stand.
That's when an unidentified female allegedly took a case of soda from the cart and left. The sheriff's office said deputies did not know about this until later.
According to the sheriff's office, a juvenile did see the alleged theft and proceeded to take a case for himself. A deputy saw it, approached the juvenile and told him to put the drinks back. The sheriff's office said the juvenile did so without incident.
That's when another juvenile allegedly spoke up and said that if another person took a case of drinks, then it should be fine for him and his friends to do so as well.
The juvenile was described by the sheriff's office as being 5-feet, 8-inches tall and 150 pounds.
The deputy told the juvenile the drinks were not his to take.
According to the sheriff's office, the juvenile became argumentative and began cursing at the deputy. He allegedly picked up a case of drinks and the deputy told him he would be stealing if he took them.
The juvenile allegedly became more agitated and "protested against his perception that the deputy had accused him of being a thief."
At this time, the sheriff's office said a crowd of onlookers started to form and the deputy told the juvenile to calm down but he did not.
Due to the disorderly conduct of the juvenile and the public disturbance, the sheriff's office said the deputy told the juvenile he would have to leave the fairgrounds.
According to the sheriff's office, the juvenile refused and sat down in a chair while continuing to loudly curse the deputy.
That's when the deputy reportedly reached down and put his hand on the juvenile's arm to get him to stand up and be escorted out.
Witnesses stated that when the deputy touched the juvenile, he abruptly stood and swung his right arm and elbow area toward the deputy's head in a "perceived attempt to strike him."
In response, the sheriff's office said the deputy placed both hands on the juvenile in order to bring him under control. The momentum of the struggle caused both the deputy and the juvenile to go forward, lose their balance and fall into a golf cart and then onto the ground.
At that time, the deputy involved, with the help of other deputies, was eventually able to gain control of the juvenile and placed him in handcuffs. The juvenile was escorted into the floral hall area of the fairgrounds and toward the exit.
According to the sheriff's office, an adult family member of the juvenile was able to calm him down so the deputy could remove the restraints and the family member escorted the juvenile from the premises.
Decision following the internal investigation
Following the investigation, the sheriff's office determined the deputy's response to the juvenile was "consistent with office policy and was necessary and proper in response to the situation."
No administrative sanctions or disciplinary action was taken against the deputy.
Even with these findings, because the mother of the juvenile sought charges against the deputy involved, McCracken County Sheriff Matt Carter and McCracken County Attorney Sam Clymer requested the Kentucky State Police conduct its own independent special investigation into the incident.
"As sheriff, when any deputy with our department is found to be in the wrong, they will be held fully accountable by me in accordance with the department policy and/or the Kentucky Revised Statue," Sheriff Carter said in a press release. "However, when they are clearly in the right, I will stand behind them 100%."
Following that investigation, Clymer will appoint a county attorney from an outside jurisdiction as special prosecutor by the Attorney General's Office to evaluate the investigative file and make a charging decision.
Due to juvenile confidential laws, the sheriff said they can't comment on what, if any, charges were brought against any juvenile or juveniles involved in the incident.