Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad defended his officer’s use of deadly force during Saturday’s fatal shooting and released CCTV footage of the incident to update the media on the ongoing investigation.
Conrad said Officer Nathan Blanford, 40, acted in accordance with police policies and after viewing the video himself is confident Blanford felt “threatened.”
“I believe, looking at the video, he (Blanford) did not have the opportunity to transition to another option,” said Conrad. “It would appear to me, based on my viewing of the video, that he felt threatened, that his life was in danger – there’s a man swinging an eight foot metal pole at him. You see in the video he’s coming down in what I would describe as a sledgehammer-like motion towards the officer.”
Blanford initiated a stop on Deng Manyoun, 35, who after being contacted walked away and grabbed an eight foot long metal flag pole. Blanford drew down on Manyoun and when the suspect swung, Blanford fired two shots, killing the suspect.
The actions of Blanford drew criticism from activists like Chanelle Helm, who spoke out against Blanford during a local meeting.
“You’re telling me you can’t defeat a person with a flag pole who seems to be intoxicated?” said Helm. “An officer is supposed to be trained to protect people. He lost all type of control.”
However, Conrad explained that officers are not required to move up the chain of escalation of force systematically, and can jump from non-lethal to lethal force if they feel they are in danger of serious bodily injury or death.
“Officers, to the extent possible, utilize an escalating scale of options when they are deciding to use force,” said Conrad. “But you need to understand that officers are not required to use one option and then the next option. They can move ahead to another option if it appears to be reasonable given the circumstances of the situation.”
Blanford, who has received 18 commendations during his time on the force, has yet to be interviewed by internal investigators, but plans to do so are underway.
(The following is a submission from freelance writer Brent McCluskey)