LOUISVILLE, Ky. Oct 13 2017 An off-duty Louisville Metro Corrections officer that fired his weapon at the Highlands Kroger on Wednesday has been identified.
WDRB News learned through an open records request that officer John Thomas was hired in April of this year and has been on the job for six months.
Officials with Metro Corrections said Thomas was off duty in the store in plain clothes when he witnessed someone shoplifting. He confronted the shoplifter, who reportedly got in a car and tried to run over Thomas. He fired a shot from his weapon and missed hitting the alleged shoplifter.
No one was injured, and police are looking for the suspect. The LMPD Public Integrity Unit is investigating whether Thomas acted appropriately.
WDRB News obtained a copy of the LMDC policy for off-duty officers. On the list of rules, it says officers should contact the appropriate police agency that has jurisdiction over any incident. And it says they should only become involved as as a last resort.
Rules also say off-duty officers are required to take action if an offense occurs in their presence, there is an immediate threat to a loss of life or serious injury to someone, or there is reason to suspect domestic violence or abuse.
Bridget Kolb was in the parking lot when the shot rang out around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“I’m really thankful when anyone intervenes in a situation to help deescalate problems … but I didn’t see anything that required any kind of gun presence in that parking lot,” Kolb said. “I saw lots of people. I saw kids. I saw shoppers. I saw security. I didn’t see anyone in immediate danger.”
Union President Tracy Dotson defended the officer’s actions. Dotson said Thomas first notified Kroger security about the alleged shoplifter, and the suspect pushed passed the store’s guard indicating he had a gun.
“He did not fire at a fleeing suspect,” Dotson said. “He evaded a suspect trying to run over him with his car, and in the process of that, accidentally fired a shot as he was getting out of the way for his life.”
The entire incident is under review by LMDC Director Mark Bolton, who has not made a decision on whether Thomas will be placed on customary leave pending the outcome of an officer shooting investigation.