Road Rage, Rifle Pulled Before Deadly Shooting on 75 in Ft. Wright
There will be no charges in a deadly shooting that took place Friday on Interstate 75 near Ft. Wright on Friday, Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders said Friday.
A call to Kenton County Emergency Communications Center at 1:22 Friday afternoon from Joshua G. Taylor indicated that Taylor had been involved in a collision with another driver in what he described as a road rage incident. While on the phone with dispatchers, while he was stopped on the side of the highway, Taylor said that he could see the other driver approaching with a rifle.
According to a news release from Sanders's office on Monday, the 911 call recording included a verbal confrontation between Taylor and John Patrick Abell before gunshots were heard.
Taylor told dispatch that he had fired shots from his own gun and struck Abell. The call's recording shows Taylor administering first aid.
Abell, 41, was transported to University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he was pronounced dead from multiple gunshot wounds. Some news reports indicated that Abell was from Bellevue, but his most recent address was in Cincinnati, Sanders said.
Taylor, 43, of Cincinnati, was questioned by police and released Friday evening.
Sanders said that no charges would be filed, ruling the case involved justifiable force.
"Kentucky law states an individual is justified in the use of physical force upon another when the individual believes such force is necessary to protect against the use of unlawful force by another person," said Sanders. "The investigation by Ft. Wright and Kenton County Police Departments conclusively found the shooter was reasonably in fear for his own life and responded lawfully," Sanders said.
Crime scene investigators located a Tikka 30-06 rifle on the ground near where Abell fell.
A Taurus 9mm handgun was recovered from Taylor's person. Taylor is believed to have fired his handgun four times. Abell did not fire his rifle. The gun was determined to be unloaded with a trigger lock in place.
"There was no way for Mr. Taylor to know the rifle being stuck in his face was inoperable," said Sanders, "so that does not make his reaction unreasonable or unlawful.
"In fact, anyone who has a gun pointed at him should always assume the gun is loaded," Sanders said. Neither party involved has a criminal record. Both were lawfully in possession of their respective firearms. Kentucky no longer requires a permit to carry concealed weapons and does not require guns to be registered.
Autopsy and toxicology reports on Abell are still pending.
Investigators located multiple empty liquor containers in Abell's SUV.
Sanders said witnesses suspected Abell was impaired based upon his driving prior to the collision.
Statements from witnesses suggest the rolling confrontation began somewhere between the Buttermilk Pike and Dixie Highway exits in Ft. Mitchell.
As the two vehicles approached the Kyles Lane on-ramp, contact between the two caused Abell's SUV to spin out, coming to rest in the gore between the interstate and the on-ramp. Taylor pulled over and called 911. Sanders said the investigation suggests Taylor and Abell did not know one another.
"Mr. Taylor was coming home from his place of employment in Boone County," said Sanders, "snd Mr. Abell is believed to have been headed home from a day of fishing."
Sanders said it's unknown why Abell was driving so aggressively.
Investigators from Ft. Wright and Kenton County Police interviewed over a dozen witnesses to the crash and shooting. All of the statements were essentially consistent and supported Taylor's account of events. Multiple witnesses also supplied police with photos taken on cell phones. Abell can be seen in photos with his rifle in hand, threatening a bystander before pointing the gun at Taylor while he is still seated in his vehicle.