Liberty police officer acquitted in shooting death resigns

July 16, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

LIBERTY - A former Liberty police officer who was acquitted of shooting a man to death while on duty has officially severed his ties with the department.

Danny Cook, who had been on leave since shooting Leon Brown last July, tendered his resignation, effective July 9. The city had reinstated Cook after an Adair County Circuit Court jury found him not guilty in Brown's death last month.

The parting of company was a mutual decision, said Liberty Police Chief Ron Whited.

"He could have come back to work here," Whited said. "When he was found not guilty, the city was advised by attorneys from the League of Cities to reinstate him. I didn't know what his intentions were until he turned in his resignation."

Cook, 41, could not be reached for comment. He has moved to Shively, Whited said.

Cook was indicted on a reckless homicide charge in October after he shot Brown once in the chest from close range while trying to arrest him on a domestic violence charge. His first trial in March in Casey County ended in a hung jury. The second trial was moved to neighboring Adair County, where a jury acquitted him.


Cook and the city remain tangled in a $16 million civil lawsuit filed by members of Brown's family, which is pending in federal court in Lexington.

Whited said he has not taken any calls regarding Cook from police departments or any other prospective employers, but added that he would give the former officer a good recommendation.

Cook's departure from the force has not left the department shorthanded, the chief said. Officer Lee Smith was hired while Cook was on leave and the department remains fully staffed at five sworn officers, he said.

The department is hoping to add another officer soon who would work primarily as a school resource officer at the Casey County High School and Middle School. The city and county already have allocated money for the new officer's salary and candidates have been interviewed, Whited said, but the right person hasn't materialized so far.

"The money is in place. It's just a matter of finding someone who fits," he said. "We're looking for someone who is already certified so we don't have to put them through the academy, but most certified officers already have jobs."

Though the department hopes to make a hire soon, Whited indicated it was unlikely a new officer would be in place when school starts next month. Even if the right person walked in the door this week, extensive background checks and testing for officers makes the hiring process lengthy, he said.

"We're tied up there at the schools quite a bit with kids fighting and drugs and things, and we have to bring them back here and basically baby-sit them until their parents pick them up, so we want to get that resource officer hired as soon as we can," Whited said.

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