Kentucky judge: Apartment incident raises questions about police SWAT deployment

Published 5:39 am Friday, July 2, 2021

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd heard a case in May that he said changed how he’ll serve warrants.

“Had I known that they were going to send a SWAT team to arrest you on this warrant, then I never would have issued the warrant,” Shepherd said.

He was speaking to Theodrick Tillman, who was extracted from an apartment on Collins Lane by a Tactical Response Unit — Frankfort Police Department’s equivalent of a SWAT team — on May 9.

The SWAT team showed up to Tillman’s girlfriend’s apartment 2½ hours after an incident between him and his girlfriend occurred on Second Street, for which criminal misdemeanor charges are likely to be dropped. Police say that after a bystander called 911 on Second Street, Tillman’s girlfriend later called from the apartment.

Upon not being able to enter the unit, police say they called out for him for 30 minutes via bullhorn before firing a chemical agent similar to pepper spray through a window. Police say situational elements beyond the Second Street incident — in part felony warrants that Tillman had out — led to their calling a SWAT team.

Tillman said at a hearing from Franklin County Regional Jail via Zoom that the event was traumatic. He said he was asleep before the chemical agent burst through his window and was released into the apartment and that the incident has damaged his hearing.

“I feared for my life,” Tillman said. “Every time I get arrested now it’s in some aggressive manner. It’s overly aggressive towards me… I woke up from my sleep to this. I don’t want to keep going through this. I can’t deal with this no more.”

FPD Spokesperson Lynn Aubrey emphasized that police tried to enter the apartment at which Tillman was staying for 30 minutes before breaking the window.