Excessive Force

By: Tamara Evans
By: Tamara Evans

A Rockfield man is recovering at the Medical Center in Bowling Green, Ky., following an attempted assault on an officer on Oct. 14, 2006.

Thomas Edward Heltsley, 51, was stopped twice by officers from Bowling Green Police and Kentucky State Police for speeding around 2 a.m. on Oct. 14, 2006, but sped away both times.

When finally stopped on Russellville Road, police said Heltsley bit a KSP trooper in the calf when they were attempting to arrest him. As a result officers from KSP, BGPD, and Western Police were forced to strike the man with a flashlight, an extendible stick and an officer's fist to get Heltsley to release the officer.

Officers at the scene said this man wasn't beaten but that striking him was the only way to safely get him off the trooper.

"I've been in law enforcement 20 years and I can never think of one instance that I’ve been a witness to where I saw an officer or trooper use more force than necessary,” said KSP Trooper Todd Holder.

Holder also said that this situation, where a man assaulted an officer and had to be struck so he would retreat, isn't common for the area due to high compliance by suspects. However, when a suspect doesn't comply the trooper or officer must always watch out for themselves.

"When we have troopers or police officers or deputies who are being assaulted by a suspect, those officers must defend themselves from injury,” Holder said.

If the aggression continues from the suspect, Holder said the response from the officers will also continue.

According to officers, sometimes items such as a flashlight or asp, which is an extendable stick, have to be used on a subject rather than a taser when the subject is too close to an officer. Shooting the taser at someone who is struggling with an officer could hit or impact them both.

"Sometimes that means that we have to lay our hands upon them, or in more extreme cases we have to use pieces of equipment that are on the troopers belt, which will encourage the person to go along peacefully,” Holder said.

Upon his release from the hospital Heltsley will be lodged in the Warren County Regional Jail, charged with speeding, fleeing and evading police, wanton endangerment, assault, D.U.I., reckless driving and resisting arrest.


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