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Family of slain deputy says LMPD has changed narrative about his shooting

Family of slain deputy says LMPD has changed narrative about his shooting

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Several hours after Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Shirley was shot and killed in August while working an off-duty security job in Shively, Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields made a strong declaration.

“We can say with a feeling of confidence that he was targeted, and that he was ambushed,” Shields said of the 26-year-old deputy, who died at a hospital after he was shot about 2:30 a.m. Aug. 5 while in his unmarked, personal pickup truck outside Rockford Lane Auto Sales.

“It is just sickening,” Shields added. “We will make an arrest.”

But over three months later, no arrests have been made in Shirley’s case, and his family says LMPD detectives have changed their theory about the shooting.

Most recently, Shirley’s family said detectives told them an “accidental shooting” may have led to the deputy’s death, said attorney Sam Aguiar and Shirley’s father, Brian, on Tuesday while outside Aguiar’s law office in Jeffersontown.

Brandon Shirley, 26, a deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office was killed Thursday after being shot in a car lot where he was working off-duty.

Brandon Shirley, 26, a deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was killed Thursday after being shot in a car lot where he was working off-duty.

“We were just told it was an accident,” Brian Shirley said, with police giving the family no other specifics.

“We’re struggling to believe that,” the father added Tuesday while flanked by his wife and Aguiar.

In a statement sent via a spokesman, LMPD said it “is committed to bringing Deputy Brandon Shirley’s killer or killers to justice.”

“Balancing the integrity of a murder investigation versus the very real needs and desires of survivors’ families is an excruciatingly difficult, constantly evolving process,” the statement said. “We know that until the murderer or murderers who took Brandon from his family and our community are convicted our efforts will never be enough.”

It added: “Members of the LMPD Command Staff have remained in contact with Deputy Shirley’s family, and will continue to do so going forward.”

Aguiar said the lead detective has refused to speak with the family and told them they may no longer contact him.

“At first, the family, like the public, was advised that Brandon was targeted and ambushed,” Aguiar said earlier Tuesday in a news release. “Investigators told the Shirley family that there was good video footage confirming this, which would make sense given that the location is surrounded by cameras.

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“The family was given specifics that Brandon was ambushed by individuals approaching his windows and that they shot Brandon inside his truck,” the release continued. “The family was subsequently advised that Brandon’s murder was possibly part of a robbery. Then the family was told that it was possibly part of a carjacking.

“Most recently, Brandon’s family was advised by detectives that Brandon’s death may have been part of an accidental shooting. Obviously, Brandon’s family has legitimate questions as to why the story has gone from ‘a targeted ambush captured on video’ to an ‘accidental shooting.’ But in each of these conversations, the family was given no information or rationale for the changed stories. The family is frustrated and confused. They need for detectives to make it make sense.”

Federal and local authorities have put forward a combined $80,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in Shirley’s case.

Aguiar said Shirley’s family is adding $10,000 to that reward, with tips on the case accepted at brandonshirley.com.

He said he is involved because the Shirley family asked him “to assist with emphasizing the need for more transparency.”

“We reached out to Sam because our son was something special, and as a parent, everybody should have a right to know what’s going on,” Brian Shirley said.

In August, LMPD also asked for the community’s help in identifying a truck and its occupants that police suggested was possibly involved in the shooting.

But Aguiar said police have since released no footage from several cameras near the car sales lot at 2618 Rockford Lane.

“It is unacceptable that, in a case where a police officer was killed, the city has broken their policy and public promise to release video footage,” Aguiar said. “The longer the family is left in the dark, the more the family becomes concerned that there is a cover up of some sorts taking place.”

The attorney added the Shirley family, “like so many other families who are left in the dark as to why their loved ones were killed, just wants answers.”

“They don’t want special treatment because their son was a police officer,” Aguiar said. “But they do want this case solved and they do want transparency in the process. They do not want this to become a situation like the tragic murder of Jason Ellis, where the public and the family have been left in the dark since 2013 while detectives remain silent.”

Ellis was a police officer in Bardstown who was killed in the early morning hours of May 25, 2013, on a ramp off the Bluegrass Parkway while on his way home.

The 33-year-old officer had stepped out of his vehicle to remove tree debris, which police say was deliberately placed on the ramp. Out of the moonlit sky, bullets flew, killing Ellis.

Rockford Lane Auto Sales had hired Shirley to work security because owners were concerned with damage to cars, including catalytic converter thefts and broken windows, Lt. Col. Carl Yates said in August. Shirley had gotten permission from the sheriff’s office to work there, he said.

Shirley’s killing was described as a “line of duty death,” despite his off-duty status because he was in uniform and “being proactive,” Yates said.

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Radio transmissions obtained by The Courier Journal captured Shirley reporting his gunshot wound to dispatchers — and LMPD said Shirley called in his own gunshot wound by radio.

“Shots fired, shots fired,” Shirley can be heard saying. A dispatcher then asks his location and he responds: “2618 Rockford Lane. I’m hit, I’m hit. … Start EMS.”

The dispatcher asks where he’s hit and he answers, “I don’t know, radio, just start EMS.”

Shirley died at University of Louisville that morning while in surgery.

He had worked with the sheriff’s office since 2019 and was assigned to the court security division. He was awarded a medal of valor for his response to the fatal shooting of Tyler Gerth in Jefferson Square Park in June 2020.

“He loved being a deputy sheriff, and he was a good one,” Jefferson County Sheriff John Aubrey said in August.

Before joining the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Shirley worked as an EMS responder in Louisville and was a graduate of Fairdale High School, where his academic achievements put him third in class, according to his father.

His next goal after working for the sheriff’s office was to join the U.S. Marshals Service, Brian Shirley added, and he would have turned 27 on Dec. 12.

Shirley is survived by his father, mother, three brothers and partner.

He was laid to rest in August in Cave Hill Cemetery, eulogized by family and colleagues as a model deputy who showed courage and compassion.

Brian Shirley said he appreciates law enforcement and the investigators who have worked his son’s case, and he understands police sometimes withhold certain evidence while investigations are still open.

But he said his family is tired of waiting to see video or gain more clarity into what happened to his son.

”It’s been 110 days, 110 days of me getting up every morning and looking at my wife and lying to her and telling her today is going to be the day,” Brian Shirley said. “… Our minds are wandering. Our minds are blown right now as to what’s going on and why, unfortunately, we don’t know more than what we should know.”

This story has been updated.

Reach Billy Kobin at bkobin@courierjournal.com.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Brandon Shirley death: Louisville deputy’s family wants more from LMPD

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