LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Louisville officer who shot man was to be fired, now being suspended


A Louisville Metro Police officer who shot a man in an abandoned home in March 2017, later explaining she meant to turn on her gun's flashlight and not fire, has been suspended for 10 days.

Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad suspended Officer Sarah Stumler for 10 days last week, according to disciplinary records obtained by the Courier Journal.

Those records indicate Stumler and Conrad met on Jan. 16 for a pre-termination hearing, which according to department policy is scheduled when the chief "believes that termination/discharge is the correct discipline..."

Stumler acknowledged in that meeting that she violated the department's care of firearms policy, which in part instructs officers to not "use or handle firearms in a careless or imprudent manner."

Bruce Warrick, 38 at the time, was shot almost immediately after being found by Stumler as she and other officers searched a house at 26th and Magazine streets on March 2, 2017, on reports of a man inside doing drugs.

An unarmed Warrick survived the shooting but underwent multiple surgeries. The city settled a lawsuit with Warrick for $1.8 million last summer.

Stumler's body camera footage showed that as she looked behind a box spring that was leaning against a wall she found Warrick, who stood in the shadows.

"Show your hands," she yelled, before raising her gun and firing once.

"I meant to turn the light on to see what was behind the mattress and accidentally pulled the trigger," she later told department investigators.

Stumler was put on administrative leave after the shooting with her police powers suspended.

In a rare move, the shooting was presented to a Jefferson County grand jury in May 2018.

The grand jury declined to indict Stumler on a second-degree assault charge. Though, in another unique act, it did issue commentary on the case, recommending annual low-light training using the weapon-mounted light and and having officers pledge to not use their trigger finger to operate the light.

As the Courier Journal found last year, the shooting revealed a lack of thorough policy on the use of weapon-mounted lights and prompted training and policy changes.

Stumler used a mounted flashlight popular with officers, which attached to a rail beneath the barrel of her gun. She explained to investigators she used her dominant hand to try and hit a switch on the side of the light and instead pulled the trigger.

In 2018, the department added a section on weapon-mounted lights to its firearms policy, explicitly banning the use of the trigger finger except in "extreme emergency situations."

Department leadership told the Courier Journal that mounted lights will be part of recruits' mandated equipment while in the academy and officers would be retrained on on using the weapon-mounted lights, regardless of whether they're actively using one.