The family and friends of Brandon Bradshaw now know that two toxicology tests were performed on him after Bradshaw was shot Feb. 26 in a road-rage event. They now know the results of those tests, one positive for marijuana and one negative. One of these tests was a routine screen performed at the direction of the Tennessee Medical Examiner’s Office after Bradshaw’s death as part of his autopsy.
It is also now known that Tommy Brown, who at the time of the shooting was an off-duty Warren County Sheriff’s Office security officer, was not given any toxicology tests.
Bradshaw died from his wounds March 2 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. On March 27, a Warren County grand jury did not find sufficient evidence to charge Brown with any crime that led to Bradshaw’s death.
We respect the due diligence and decision of that jury. It does appear from all evidence that Brown was acting in self-defense when Bradshaw brandished a handgun toward him.
The investigation into the shooting death of Bradshaw by Brown is a shining example of would’ve, should’ve, could’ve – but didn’t.
We find it very disturbing that there appears to have been a double standard in this case relating to toxicology testing. Police should have foreseen the fact that Bradshaw would be tested and that they should have attempted to obtain the same test on Brown.
Brown should have been given toxicology tests. Someone truly dropped the ball. A man who is now deceased was given two toxicology tests, but the man who took his life was not given any.
Kentucky State Police, which investigated the shooting, could have asked Brown to voluntarily submit to a drug and alcohol screen or, the agency could have attempted to get a search warrant to compel Brown to submit to a screen and let a judge decide if there was probable cause to sign off on a search warrant.
Brown could have taken it upon himself to take the screening as a matter of record to avoid the appearance of any impropriety. His supervisor at the sheriff’s office should have suggested this to him. Any of these routes would have eliminated some of the ensuing public skepticism about how this investigation was handled. It’s so easy to explain why one does something, but very difficult to explain why one does nothing. No one but Brown will ever know what the result of that test would’ve been.
We’re not inferring that anything improper took place on Brown’s part or on the part of any law enforcement agency. We’re merely pointing out that this investigation and the dissemination of information about it was handled poorly all the way around. We hope that every law enforcement agency in this county, from the commonwealth’s attorney’s office to city, county and state police agencies, learn something from this case. This act and the investigation fractured this community, and police played an unfortunate role by remaining silent.
KSP won’t say why Brown wasn’t tested. It hasn’t said much about this intensely scrutinized case from day one. We don’t know if the test at The Medical Center was performed at the direction of the police or if The Medical Center routinely performs urine drug screens on gunshot victims because, once again, police won’t answer any questions about this case. When the investigation was ongoing, police said they couldn’t comment on an ongoing case. Now that it’s over, they are still playing it silent. Why?
While most agencies understand they can’t have it both ways, KSP seems to think it’s OK for that agency. There is really little that anyone can do to compel them to talk other then file an open records request for their investigative files after a case has closed, which is how we learned most of what we know about this investigation. But when an open records request is filed with KSP, be prepared first for a wait and then for a fight. We had to go all the way to the Kentucky attorney general to obtain simple toxicology results that should’ve been handed over without a battle, and when we asked why Brown wasn’t tested, KSP should have answered that question.
One also has to ask whether Brown was given preferential treatment because he was a member of law enforcement. We will let our readers decide the answer to that question.
What we do know is that Brown should have had toxicology reports performed on him. The fact that he didn’t and the secrecy by the KSP and the commonwealth’s attorney’s office surrounding this case will leave a lot of people asking why for years.
If this shooting occurred on the west side of Bowling Green between two men without criminal records, would the case have been handled the same or would someone be in jail right now fighting to prove his innocence? So many people expressed their concerns that this investigation was handled differently than it would have been had Brown not been a deputy. Was it? We won’t really know until a similar set of circumstances presents itself, and, until then, we will be watching.