Video Released from Fatal Shootout Involving Ludlow Officer
The body camera worn by Ludlow Police Officer Samuel Hodge revealed how quickly a situation escalated last December, and how tragically it nearly ended for him.
Hodge made a traffic stop on Tuesday, December 22 near the Riverside Market on Elm Street. He pursued a van for several blocks before driver Charles Reynolds finally relented and pulled in at the grocery story.
Reynolds was known to be suspicious of the government and was also known to possess a firearm. It was later learned that he was under investigation for his attempt to purchase a gun in Maysville illegally just days prior.
When Hodge asked Reynolds to step out of his vehicle, Reynolds complied. But when the officer asked Reynolds to turn around, things turned tense. Reynolds placed his hands near the back of his waist, the body camera shows, and Hodge asked him to put his hands where they could be seen.
Reynolds instead demanded that Hodge remove his own hands from his gun.
"I am legally allowed to do so," Hodge told Reynolds.
"So am I," Reynolds replied.
And then, Hodge is heard yelling, "Stop it! Stop it!" Gunfire is heard. Hodge falls backward. The camera goes black.
SEE THE VIDEO (WARNING: Contains violence):
Ludlow, KY: Police Officer Returns Fire After Traffic Stop Tak...
WARNING: This video contains violence.Nearly 3 months after a fatal shooting involving a Ludlow Police officer, the newly released body cam footage shows just how quickly this traffic stop escalated and how closely the officer came to being killed. Plus, see how a bystander came to the aid of the officer.Posted by The River City News on Thursday, March 10, 2016
When the image returns to the camera, it is clear that Hodge is on the ground, wounded we would later learn in his arm. He has been approached by a witness, James Megerle, who urges the officer to remain seated. Megerle notices that Reynolds is still moving so he asks Hodge to watch him as he makes his way towards the suspect to kick Reynolds' gun away.
Hodge calls for backup.
Megerle returns to Hodge and uses his belt as a tourniquet to slow the heavy blood loss the officer is suffering due to a bullet wound to the arm.
Units from across Kenton County arrive at the scene and Reynolds later dies.
Nearly three months later, on Thursday, Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders released the video to The River City News at the conclusion of the investigation by the Kentucky State Police (standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting) and after his office's own review. Hodge's use of force was justified, Sanders said, in a letter to the state police.
"Under these circumstances, considering the situation from Officer Hodge's perspective, as required by law, there is no probable cause to believe the use of deadly force was anything but justified," Sanders wrote. "Thus I find no probable cause to believe any crime was committed by Officer Hodge. His use of deadly force was clearly justified and reasonable."
At Thursday night's Ludlow City Council meeting, Police Chief Scott Smith thanked Megerle for coming to the aid of Hodge. Megerle was presented with a plaque for his heroism.
"I knew what I had to do and I just jumped in there and did it," Megerle said. He was simply at the grocery for a quick food run when he witnessed the shootout between Reynolds and Hodge. His background in the Army helped him in knowing what to do in the situation, he said. "I knew (Hodge) was in shock and I knew he was bleeding bad. Actually, I thought I may have to grab his gun and shoot (Reynolds).
Smith said that Hodge is doing well, though the emotional recovery will take longer than the physical one. "Nobody wants to kill anyone," the chief said. "There's going to be some things he's going to work through."
As for the gripping video, Smith said that it shows how professional Hodge handled the situation.
"I was very pleased with him in this video," Smith said. "He was about as professional as he could be. For a bad situation it went as well as it could have."
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News
Photo: Scene of the shooting last December (RCN file)