LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man accused of driving his truck at a police officer, who responded by opening fire, has died more than a week after he was shot when a domestic disturbance escalated into the confrontation, Kentucky State Police said Friday.
Kenneth B. Huntzinger, 51, of Richmond died Thursday evening at University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington.
Huntzinger, who allegedly was involved in the domestic dispute in Madison County, was shot by state police Sgt. Toby Coyle on Feb. 7.
Coyle, a 16-year state police veteran, has been placed on paid administrative leave, state police said.
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The shooting is being investigated by a special state police unit formed recently to handle investigations of officer-involved shootings.
Huntzinger was not armed but was “using his vehicle as the weapon,” KSP Trooper Robert Purdy said Friday in a phone interview.
The truck was “reasonably close” to Coyle when he opened fire, Purdy said, but he did not know the exact distance.
“There were a number of things that Sgt. Coyle tried that night to de-escalate the situation and peacefully end it, and unfortunately none of those worked,” Purdy said.
Coyle approached Huntzinger, who was in the truck, and instructed him to get out of the vehicle. During the confrontation, Huntzinger rammed another vehicle, trying to push it out of the way in the driveway, Purdy said.
When the officer’s attempts to get Huntzinger to stop and get out of the truck failed, “that’s when Sgt. Coyle backed up away from the vehicle, it accelerated, turned and headed toward Sgt. Coyle, and that’s when the shots were fired,” Purdy said.
Coyle was not injured. Both Huntzinger and Coyle are white.
State police this week announced the formation of the six-member unit assigned to automatically investigate any shootings involving state police officers. It also will review other officer-related shootings across Kentucky on a case-by-case basis when requested by affected law enforcement agencies. The unit has investigated five incidents since its formation in January, state police leaders said Wednesday.