Officers Cleared in Whitson Death

By: Ryan Dearbone Email
By: Ryan Dearbone Email

The Warren County Commonwealth Attorney's Office said it will not pursue any further action against Bowling Green Police Officers Erik Woodward and Beldon Parry. Both officers were involved in the tragic accidental shooting of Master Police Officer David Whitson in October 2006.

Warren County Commonwealth Attorney Chris Cohron said in a statement that after reviewing the entire investigation by Kentucky State Police detectives, he felt the officers acted in an appropriate manner.

Kentucky State Police said Whitson, Parry, and Woodward found 26-year-old Rojelio Gonzalez-Pacheco wielding two knives when they responded to a disturbance call on Vine Street. The officers commanded Pacheco in both English and Spanish to drop the weapons, but he didn't.

"When Officer Whitson and Officer Woodward attempted to use their tasers, Officer Parry was in position to where he was covering the two officers with his handgun," said Tommy Smith, Kentucky State Police detective sergeant.

The tasers failed to slow Pacheco and he attacked Whitson.

"As he turned to make his get-away with Mr. Pacheco behind him, they both had their backs turned to Officer Parry with Pacheco between Officer Parry and Officer Whitson," Smith said.

Both Officers Parry and Woodward shot at Pacheco an attempt to protect Whitson. Whitson was hit by a single bullet. KSP would later determine the bullet that killed Whitson came from Officer Parry's gun. Pacheco was killed by a bullet from Erik Woodward

Smith said KSP used interviews from neighbors who saw the incident, the officers and physical evidence in their investigation.

"There was a lot of physical evidence left at the scene. Several shell casings, pieces of the taser wire that was left at the scene. By plotting all of that evidence with the statements of the officers we were able to determine what took place," Smith noted.

In a press release, Bowling Green Police Chief Doug Hawkins acknowledged the ruling by the Commonwealth Attorney's Office and said," We continue to support the family of Master Police Officer David Whitson as they continue to mourn the loss of a husband and father. The men and women of the BGPD also continue to support Officer Erik Woodward and Officer Beldon Parry as they resume their careers with the Bowling Green Police Department." To view the complete press releases click here.

Woodward is currently on assignment out of town at canine training and Parry is back on patrol on second shift.

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