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Lawsuit: Suspect who shot and killed Jody Cash was ‘never adequately searched’

Liam Niemeyer

A lawsuit was filed Wednesday against members of the Marshall and Calloway County law enforcement just under a year after Calloway deputy Jody Cash was shot and killed.

The suit, acquired by WKMS, was filed by the officer’s widow – Karen Cash – and another deputy involved in the incident – as well as their spouse – with the Marshall County Circuit Court.

It alleges that Cash’s shooter, whom Kentucky State Police have identified as Gary Rowland, was “never adequately searched” when he entered the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office on May 16, 2022, the day of the shooting. Neither Cash nor Rowland was initially identified by authorities in the incident’s aftermath. The Kentucky State Police publicly identified Cash as the deceased officer in the days after his death.

According to the complaint document, Rowland was being interviewed by Cash and Marshall deputy Donald Bowman when he requested a smoke break, which they granted. Investigators said in the document that it was Rowland’s second smoking break during the interview.

During the break, Rowland pulled out a concealed 9mm handgun and fatally shot Cash. Bowman and another Marshall deputy then returned fire, striking and killing Rowland.

Then-Marshall County Sheriff Eddie McGuire was also interviewed for the investigation. He asked multiple deputies on the scene if Rowland had been searched, but none replied. Another Marshall County deputy corroborated McGuire’s chain of events.

Benton Police Chief Stephen Sanderson recounted in an interview with investigators that Rowland made comments to Cash about not returning to jail and that the suspect said he would “go down” in a shooting.

“Rowland told [Cash], ‘You all don't come after me . . . I'm not going to back to jail. I got too much time hanging over my head. I will, I've got plenty of guns. I'm gonna have a shootout with you guys,’” Sanderson said. “I remember having that conversation with Jody 'cause he, he wanted to make us well aware that this guy was possibly armed and dangerous.”

The defendants include current Marshall County Sheriff Matt Hilbrecht, Calloway County Sheriff Nicky Knight, City of Benton Police Officer Logan Hampton, Marshall County Deputy Zach Johnson, Marshall County Special Deputy Chris Beavers, Marshall County Deputy Luke Rudd and Calloway County Deputy Troy Doss.

Doss, according to the suit, was the first officer in contact with Rowland. When Rowland was apprehended at his apartment earlier in the day, he conducted a “sweep” search of the suspect’s stomach, back and sweatpants pocket, but did not search further. Rudd, who the suit said put the cuffs on Rowland, did not search the suspect in the process of restraining him. It also establishes that Hampton didn’t search Rowland when he was put in his patrol car.

Upon arrival at the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, Hampton said he searched Rowland and found and confiscated a keychain around his neck. Though he found the keychain, Hampton did not find a knife that was later recovered from Rowland’s body or the 9mm firearm that Rowland would use to fatally shoot Cash.

The suit also recalls an interview given by Benton Police Officer Keegan Cole where he was “asked if there was anything law enforcement could have done differently to change the outcome of the situation.” His response: “Just probably uh, searching people to the full extent.”

Comments from Cole captured on bodycam in the aftermath of the shooting show him making a similar statement, the complaint indicates: “I guess we didn’t f------, it’s our f------ guy. I guess we didn’t fuckin’ search him good enough. He had a gun in his waistband.”

Cash’s widow is asking for damages connected to her husband’s death. Bowman and his spouse are seeking damages associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and “intense psychological distress” that he’s experienced since the shooting. According to the suit, Bowman has been unable to continue working as a police officer since the incident.

Hundreds attended the funeral services for Cash held at Murray State University’s CFSB Center days after his death. He was eulogized by family, friends and fellow law enforcement officers as a “great friend to many in good times and bad.”

A native of western Kentucky, Operle earned his bachelor's degree in integrated strategic communications from the University of Kentucky in 2014. Operle spent five years working for Paxton Media/The Paducah Sun as a reporter and editor. In addition to his work in the news industry, Operle is a passionate movie lover and concertgoer.
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