A Whitley County Grand Jury has determined that a Kentucky State Police trooper was justified in using lethal force last fall to kill a man, who was threatening his one-year-old child at a residence in southern Whitley County.
“Lieutenant Jim Goble from the KSP Critical Incident Response Team appeared before the Whitley County Grand Jury in regard to an Officer involved shooting where KSP Trooper Jeremy Elliotte fired his service weapon resulting in the death of Ronald Leach. After reviewing the case information presented by Lt. Goble the Grand Jury voted that no action needed to be taken, and Officer Elliotte was justified in using his weapon against Mr. Leach,” the grand jury wrote in its monthly report Monday.
Commonwealth Attorney Ronnie Bowling said it is state police standard procedure to present such cases to the grand jury when a trooper is involved, and that the grand jury overwhelming rejected the idea that Elliotte did any wrongdoing in connection with the case.
“Trooper Elliotte was beyond justified in his actions. I am sure he is glad to have it behind him. This was a no brainer that he was guilty of nothing,” Bowling added.
The shooting of Leach, 29, of Jellico, occurred on Sept. 24, 2018, at his residence off Highway 1804 where Leach was threatening to harm his one-year-old child inside a vehicle in the driveway of a residence where he had been staying, according to a 911 call obtained by the News Journal through an open records request.
The three-minute call, which prompted the KSP response, was made to the Whitley County E-911 Center at 1:23 a.m. from the Jellico Police Department, which advised that Leach’s mother, Teresa McGee, was too upset to call them directly.
The Jellico official relayed information to a Whitley County 911 dispatcher that Leach apparently suffered from schizophrenia, was off his medication, and had been to the hospital a couple of times.
“He left before the law could get there. He is threatening to harm himself or the child. He is armed with a box cutter. He is sitting in the yard right now in a little gold colored Chevy Cobalt,” the Jellico official can be heard saying during the call.
The Jellico official communicated that Leach had apparently been fighting with his mother, and hadn’t had any medication in a while.
When Elliotte arrived at the scene, it was discovered that Leach had gotten out of his vehicle and taken the child inside his residence and attempted to barricade himself inside, according to a KSP release.
Elliotte entered the residence and located Leach and the child inside, according to the release.
A physical altercation then ensued between Leach and Elliotte.
“During the altercation, the male subject attempted to assault the trooper with a weapon. The trooper fired his service weapon striking the subject,” according to a KSP press release.
Leach instantly died from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and extremities. He was shot three times.