The mayor and council members have been dismissed as defendants in Scott County Deputy Jaime Morales’ lawsuit against the City of Georgetown and the Georgetown Police Department.
Judge Jeremy Mattox issued the ruling Thursday in Scott Circuit Court upon the city’s motion to dismiss. The lawsuit had named Mayor Tom Prather and each council member individually. The city, Georgetown Police Department and Lt. James Wagoner remain as defendants.
Depositions in the case are expected to start later this month.
Morales was shot during an operation 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 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, 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 that 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.
The lawsuit asks for unspecified monetary damages. Morales is permanently paralyzed and will need future medical care, the lawsuit states. He is now a special deputy with the sheriff’s office.
Following the shooting, the Georgetown community rallied around Morales with multiple fundraisers, shirts with his badge No. 217 were purchased with the proceeds going to the deputy and a street was named in his honor by the city.
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.