Two Louisville Metro Police Officers fatally shot a man late last month after he fled police and “brandished a firearm” during the course of a stolen vehicle investigation.
The officers said they attempted to apprehend two men who fled a suspected stolen vehicle around 9:40 a.m. on May 30. Officers located 32-year-old Ryan Bernal in the 3600 block of Georgetown Place.
Body camera footage released last week shows Bernal pulling out a gun and pointing it near his face and neck while backing away from the officers. The officers had their weapons pointed at the suspect and repeatedly asked him to drop the gun.
Bernal then raised the firearm and pointed it at police, according to a Kentucky State Police spokesman. LMPD Officer Brenton Woodford, a five-year veteran on the force, can be heard in the video yelling “drop it” three times before firing six or seven rounds at Bernal.
The video then shows Bernal falling to the ground. Woodford yells that Bernal “still has the gun in his hand” before him, and several other officers walk over to the man and handcuff him. At the same time, blood can be seen pooling around his head. The officers then back away to call in for medical supplies.
Another officer alerts dispatchers that Bernal has “one gunshot wound to the head” and requests EMS. Woodford can be seen walking over to an apartment to give dispatchers the address.
Body cam footage from a second officer who has been with the department since February shows the officer describe the suspect as a “white male” before firing his weapon once. Officer Chase Barrett’s camera is briefly dislodged and does not show Bernal being shot.
Bernal died from his injuries the following day at the University of Louisville Hospital. Autopsy results are still pending. State Police said in a news release that, “The investigation remains ongoing and is being handled by KSP’s Critical Incident Response Team.”
Woodford has no disciplinary record and has received numerous commendations while with the department. Barrett’s file only mentions his promotion from recruit to officer back in February.
But Brittany Rowland, the mother of Bernal’s daughter, said she believes the video shows Bernal may have been trying to surrender or possibly pointing the gun at himself. She called the shooting unjustified.
“I think they over-reacted too quickly,” she told WHAS. “He had the gun pointed at himself and was backing away. Why not try to deescalate the situation?”