Phillips' Brother Questions Trooper's Charge

By: Phil Pendleton, WKYT
By: Phil Pendleton, WKYT

A Kentucky State Trooper faces charges in connection with the death of a suspect.

Trooper BJ Burton is accused of reckless homicide in the death of Billy Phillips.

Phillips was arrested on DUI charges in Adair County back in June.

Investigators say Phillips lunged at the trooper while being booked into the jail and the trooper responded by striking him with his hand or arm.

Phillips had his hands cuffed in front of him and hit his head against the wall or floor when he fell.

Larry Phillips says his brother Billy was a friend to many in the Adair-Russell County area. So it might seem ironic that he was arrested near the line separating the two counties; an arrest that led to his death.

Now a grand jury says Phillip's death was no accident.

"He'd give his shirt off his back for you. They're sworn to uphold the law and I think he took this a little too far," Larry said.

Phillips was arrested for DUI on June 1 by Trooper B.J. Burton.

Police say more than a hour later at the Adair County Jail, Phillips lunged at Trooper Burton.

Burton then allegedly hit Phillips who then struck his head on either the floor or a wall.

Phillips died June 4 at a Lexington hospital. A grand jury returned a reckless homicide indictment on Aug. 21.

"We just all miss him and hope the truth will come out and justice will be served," Larry continued.

Trooper Burton is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome. He has not been arrested and the only condition on the indictment is that he not have a gun.

Ky. State Police Spokesman Lt. Phil Crumpton says the matter is under investigation.

Crumpton says just because there's indictment doesn't mean guilt or innocence, but Phillips' brother questions where reckless homicide was the right charge.

"I think it could have been a steeper penalty," Larry admitted.

Burton is ordered to appear in court on Aug. 28.

If Trooper Burton is found guilty of reckless homicide, he could serve one to five years in jail.


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