Family of man fatally shot by Fulton police sues multiple agencies
FULTON, KY – Chris McClure was shot and killed by Fulton police in January 2017 after he was using a pole with a knife to break and smash car windows. A federal lawsuit brought by his family names the city of Fulton, the Fulton Police Department, Kentucky State Police, and the commonwealth attorney.
Kentucky State Police took over the investigation when the shooting happened. KSP found McClure died because of two gunshot wounds to the torso, and a toxicology report showed he had methamphetamine and other substances in his system.
There are a lot of charges made in the lawsuit. The lawsuit says every one of the agencies listed violated McClure’s Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and 14th Amendment rights. The list goes on from there: alleging negligence, battery, wrongful death, perjury, and abuse of public office. Not only does the family believe the officer shouldn’t have fired a single shot, the family’s attorney told me the events after he was shot, as well as prosecution of the case, were botched.
We obtained police body camera footage from the family’s attorney. The video is from the body cam of James “Buck” Buckingham, the Fulton police officer who responded to calls that a man smashed the windows out of the police chief’s car.
In the video, as Buckingham sees McClure, he pulls his gun out for a moment. We see McClure carrying what according to police is a pole with a knife. Then, Buckingham pulls his car around and parks. McClure smashes the cruiser window, and Buckingham fires the first shot.
McClure at that point has one gunshot wound. These are the moments before Buckingham shoots him a second time. Kentucky state police would later testify before a grand jury that, moments before he was shot the second time, McClure was refusing verbal commands, kicking, and hiding his hands. We have included video of the moments before the second shot was fired — but not the shooting itself — because those moments are a key point of contention in the lawsuit.
Larry Forman, the McClure family’s attorney, says: “Neither shot is justified. Not the first one. Not the second one. The second one was an execution from point-blank range, and the first shot had no verbal warning and had no justification, because he was attacking property.”
Even after shots were fired, Forman says the officers didn’t call an ambulance until after McClure was bleeding on the ground, calling out for help.
“The level of professionalism here, if I were to rank them from 0 to 10, would be a negative number,” Forman says.
There’s another piece to this lawsuit. Commonwealth Attorney Mike Stacy is also named in the suit. Forman says Stacy, with Kentucky State Police investigators, fraudulently concealed body cam evidence from the grand jury to keep them from handing down an indictment. That’s part of why we showed part of the body cam footage in the story you can watch above this article.
In audio file from the grand jury, KSP Lt. Lonnie Bell testified: “At first he breaks the glass out of his vehicle, then raises the pipe in a threatening manner, and Lt. Buckingham has his weapon drawn, shoot him once. He falls to the ground. He refuses verbal commands. He’s kicking. He’s keeping his hands over him, hidden, and Lt. Buckingham shoots him again.”
Forman believes Bell’s account conflicts with the body cam evidence, and that is why the grand jury did not bring an indictment in the case.
I reached out to all parties: Fulton city, Fulton police, Kentucky State Police, and Mike Stacy. No one was available for comment Wednesday.
The parties have 20 days to respond to the lawsuit.