The law enforcement officer who accidentally wounded Scott County Deputy Jaime Morales during a confrontation on Sept. 11 with a suspected serial bank robber could not be positively identified by experts, according to an extensive report released this week by the Kentucky State Police. The News-Graphic obtained the report through an Open Records request.
The report does definitively state Morales was wounded by friendly fire as the bank suspect, Edward J. Reynolds never fired his weapon.
“Neither the Forensic Firearms Report nor the Trace Lab Report was able to determine which rifle discharged the projectile that struck Deputy Morales in the back,” the report states. “The projectile is still lodged in Deputy Morales’ body.”
The report does offer substantial clues, however.
Only three officers, Morales, Scott County Deputy Jordan Jacobs and Georgetown Police Officer Joseph Enricco fired their weapons during the incident, according to the report.
Fifteen shell casings were recovered at the scene and the three rifles fired were collected during the investigation. Morales fired six rounds, Jacobs fired four rounds and Enricco fired five rounds, per the report.
“The range of fire from the rifle to Deputy Morales’ uniform shirt was close range beyond contact,” the report states.
Forensic expert Lawrence Pilcher conducted multiple tests on the rifles, including a test using a shirt similar to the one worn by Morales at various distances to see if the bullet pattern could be matched.
“Lawrence explained he only fired Deputy Jacobs and Officer Enricco’s rifles during the tests and used the ammunition from their respective magazines,” the report states. “He stated both rifles tested the same at each distance. He stated six inches is close, but could be one-to-two inches on either side.
“He stated that 12 inches isn’t possible either because the projective passed through the material with no gas damage to the swatches. Based on his tests, the range of fire could be between four-to-eight inches. In the email, Lawrence stated the distance would be considered a close shot, not contact and not exceeding 12 inches based on the labs reporting policies.”
In a Nov. 7 report to state police, Pilcher said he was able to match the casings to the rifles, but he could not match the test-fired projectiles to the rifles. He noted several were Federal brand and that brand was carried by only one officer, but while it is logical to assume the Federal brand was fired from a Colt rifle, Pilcher was unable to match the Federal ammo to the Colt rifle, the report states.
“He advised the only way to know which officer shot Deputy Morales is to retrieve the projectile from Morales,” the report states. That bullet cannot be retrieved because it is lodged in Morales’ spine.
The Colt M-16 rifle was loaded with Federal Tactical ammunition and the two Double Star Rifles were loaded with Hornady ammunition, according to the report.
Following the tests, Pilcher showed investigators the projectiles.
“The two Hornady projectiles were fragmented into several pieces,” the KSP report states. “the Federal projectile was mushroomed and looked very similar to the projectile visible in Deputy Morales’ x-ray.
“Lawrence stated he is unable to make that determination, just by looking at an x-ray,” the report states. The reason is because the rounds were fired into water and water doesn’t always cause the same damage to projectiles as if the projectile was fired into a person. Water causes more damage to the projectile, unless the projectile impacts human bone.”
The Georgetown Police Department uses Federal Tactical ammunition. The Scott County Sheriff’s Office uses Hornady ammunition.
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.