Georgetown empathizes with paralyzed Scott County Deputy Jaime Morales, but vows to “vigorously” defend itself, said the city’s attorney in response to a lawsuit filed late Friday against city officials and the police department.
“We obviously cannot comment on pending litigation,” said attorney L.Scott Miller in a press release shortly after receiving notification of the lawsuit. “However, we certainly empathize with Deputy Jaime Morales and his family and are disappointed that a lawsuit has been filed.
“However, now that the lawsuit is pending, we will meet our responsibility of vigorously defending our client and officers in their efforts in apprehending a very dangerous individual. We will be reviewing the complaint and determining all possible defenses.”
Morales was shot and paralyzed during an attempt to arrest suspected serial bank robber Edward Reynolds on Sept. 11, 2018, at the northbound rest area at Exit 127. The deputy was part of a joint special response team of the police department and sheriff’s office that was called to help the U.S. Marshal’s Office, which had tracked Reynolds to Georgetown. On the night of this operation, Georgetown Police officer Lt. James Wagoner was in charge of the special response team. Reynolds was shot and killed in his car without firing his weapon, police reports state.
Earlier this year, a Kentucky State Police report on the incident stated Morales was wounded by friendly fire, but did not name the officer who shot Morales. A Scott County grand jury did not return any indictments following its investigation of the incident.
Morales’ lawsuit names Joseph Enricco as the officer who fired the fateful shot, and alleges he had only completed basic response team training shortly before the incident. The lawsuit states the Sept. 11 incident was Enricco’s first serious response team call and he had no vehicle assault training. Enricco has since resigned from the police department.
“Officer Enricco lacked the experience, training or knowledge to serve the callout to apprehend Reynolds,” the lawsuit states.
Georgetown Police Chief Michael Bosse and Wagoner should not have allowed Enricco on the call because of his inexperience, the lawsuit states. The lawsuit also claims Wagoner failed to communicate a detailed plan before the response team approached Reynolds’ car.
“It’s very compelling what a poor job the Georgetown Police Department did in training and commanding the SRT team,” Thomas Miller, one of Morales’ attorneys, told the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper.
The lawsuit states Scott County sheriff’s deputies Jordan Jacobs and Morales were standing next to each other when they approached Reynolds’ vehicle. Morales used his baton to shatter Reynolds’ window after the fugitive failed to drop his weapon. Morales dropped his baton and grabbed his weapon after seeing Reynolds attempt to load his handgun, the lawsuit states.
“Enricco was positioned to the rear-right of Morales and was not in a position to discharge his firearm because Morales was between him and Reynolds,” the lawsuit states.
Only Enricco was in a position to fire the shot that paralyzed Morales, the lawsuit states. Morales’ attorneys hired a forensic expert who agreed Enricco was the officer who fired the shot that wounded Morales.
Specifically named in the lawsuit are Mayor Tom Prather, the members of the Georgetown City Council and Lt. Wagoner.
The lawsuit asks for unspecified monetary damages. Morales is permanently paralyzed and will need future medical care, the lawsuit states.
Mike Scogin can be reached at email@example.com.