LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Jefferson Co. Constable David Whitlock sues Metro Government


A shooting at a local Wal-Mart brings plenty of questions and now two civil lawsuits. On November 2nd, Constable David Whitlock, dressed in plain clothes, says he shot Tammie Ortiz believing she was a shoplifter. Investigators say he fired his gun after she ran over his foot with her car. Bullets hit her arm and face but the injuries were not life-threatening.

Metro Council members thought Whitlock had gone too far and met with then LMPD Chief Robert White, even though it's an elected position not under the chief's control.

"That one constable that's causing the issues is not highly regarded. Do you think he's a rogue constable? I would simply say that you have a badge and gun on the street without any training is not a good thing," said Metro Councilman David James at the time.

The council recently mandated that constables can't wear police style uniforms or carry badges. Whitlock has not said much until now -- and he's saying that through two new lawsuits. In the first he wants a judge to bar the city from enforcing the restrictions. He also claims the city owes him thousands in back pay. Whitlock's declined to comment but issued a statement through his attorney saying, "My office is established by our state constitution and the General Assembly has granted my office the power of a peace officer. While I recognize and accept that Metro Council has some legislative authority over my office; some of the current ordinances overstep their legislative bounds and violate the state constitution and state law."

The statement continues, "My main concern is public safety so we've got to have clarity between the roles of the different public safety agencies. Those are the concerns we put forth in any of our actions."

Mayor Greg Fischer is named in the second lawsuit. Whitlock is suing him, the current and former LMPD chief, and a former police officer over claims Whitlock's expunged criminal record was exposed in the media after the November shooting. Whitlock says he's suffering from mental anguish, injury to his reputation, and loss of income. Fischer says he's not seen the lawsuit but says the constable role is complicated: "It's just as important for citizens to understand where police powers reside, in our case that's with LMPD."

The incident is being investigated, but no criminal charges have been filed.