Louisville, KY – The Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) has changed its story about what they described in August as a targeted, ambush attack on Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Shirley, according to the slain deputy’s family.
Deputy Shirley, 26, was in uniform working an off-duty security job at a used car lot located on Rockford Lane near Dover Road on Aug. 5 when he came under attack at approximately 2:30 a.m., WLKY reported.
He was sitting in his unmarked vehicle when an unidentified suspect suddenly walked up and shot him, LMPD Spokesperson Alicia Smiley told reporters shortly after the incident, according to WAVE.
Deputy Shirley was able to use his radio to call for help, according to the Courier Journal.
JCSO Lieutenant Colonel Carl Yates said Deputy Shirley was transported to the University of Louisville Hospital and rushed into surgery, WLKY reported.
Deputy Shirley died of his wounds during the emergency procedure, according to the Courier Journal.
LMPD Chief Erika Shields told reporters immediately after the incident that investigators were certain Deputy Shirley was “targeted and ambushed,” WDRB reported.
“It is just sickening,” the Chief Shields said at the time, adding that investigators have potentially identified “a couple of suspects.”
“We will make an arrest,” she vowed.
But nearly four months later, no one has been arrested, the Courier Journal reported.
During a press conference Nov. 23, Deputy Shirley’s father, Brian, and attorney Sam Aguiar said LMPD detectives are now telling them the deputy’s murder may have been an “accidental shooting,” according to the paper.
Brian Shirley said his family has been given no other details.
“We were just told it was an accident,” he told reporters. “We’re struggling to believe that.”
However, LMPD released a statement after the press conference reiterating its commitment “to bringing Deputy Brandon Shirley’s killer or killers to justice,” the Courier Journal reported.
The agency noted that balancing the “very real needs and desires” of the victims’ families with “the integrity of a murder investigation” is a constantly-evolving, “excruciatingly difficult” process.
“We know that until the murderer or murderers who took Brandon from his family and our community are convicted our efforts will never be enough,” the LMPD said, according to the Courier Journal. “Members of the LMPD Command Staff have remained in contact with Deputy Shirley’s family, and will continue to do so.”
But according to Aguiar, the lead detective in the case told Deputy Shirley’s family to stop contacting him and has refused to speak with them.
“At first, the family, like the public, was advised that Brandon was targeted and ambushed,” the attorney previously said. “Investigators told the Shirley family that there was good video footage confirming this, which would make sense given that the location is surrounded by cameras.”
Police gave the family specific details early on, including information about how the shooter approached Deputy Shirley’s window and shot him while he was still inside of his vehicle, the Courier Journal reported.
But months later, the footage investigators referenced has still not been released, Aguiar said.
“The family was subsequently advised that Brandon’s murder was possibly part of a robbery. Then the family was told that it was possibly part of a carjacking,” the attorney told the Courier Journal. “Most recently, Brandon’s family was advised by detectives that Brandon’s death may have been part of an accidental shooting.”
The extreme change in theory has left Deputy Shirley’s family confused and frustrated.
“Obviously, Brandon’s family has legitimate questions as to why the story has gone from ‘a targeted ambush captured on video’ to an ‘accidental shooting,’” Aguiar told the Courier Journal. “But in each of these conversations, the family was given no information or rationale for the changed stories. The family is frustrated and confused. They need for detectives to make it make sense.”
The attorney said LMPD’s refusal to release footage of the shooting violates their own “policy and public promise,” the Courier Journal reported.
“The longer the family is left in the dark, the more the family becomes concerned that there is a cover up of some sort taking place,” he added.
They aren’t looking for special treatment, just transparency, Aguiar said.
Federal and local officials and Deputy Shirley’s family are still offering a $90,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of his killer, the Courier Journal reported.
Deputy Shirley joined the JCSO on March 18, 2019 and was assigned to court security, Jefferson County Sheriff John Aubrey told WDRB.
“He loved being a deputy sheriff, and he was a good one,” Sheriff Aubrey said.
Deputy Shirley was awarded the Medal of Valor shortly before his murder.