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Paducah Police Release Video of Kester Traffic Stop, No Further Action Warranted

Paducah Police Department officials have released video of a traffic stop that spurred social media criticism and accusations of excessive force towards the department.

On Friday, the department announced the internal investigation into the stop of Kliff and Wendy Kester of Paducah was complete, determining no further action is warranted.

Police in-car videos from the traffic stop were posted on the City of Paducah's YouTube channel.

Warning: The videos do contain some strong language.

On August 26th, two P.P.D. officers, with assistance from sheriff’s deputies, pulled over a black Dodge truck on Lone Oak Road. The vehicle’s occupants, the Kesters, were suspected of using stolen dealer’s license plates.

The two were detained, handcuffed and questioned but later released without charges.

Wendy Kester later posted on Facebook that the officers shouted at them while forcibly removing them from the truck with weapons drawn and no explanation. The post garnered nearly a thousand shares and set off criticism of the P.P.D.'s use of force. 

Post by Wendy Kester.

The post prompted Police Chief Brandon Barnhill to defend the officers’ actions in a press release saying aiming weapons at potential threats and using loud verbal directions is protocol for a felony stop.

In the release today, Barnhill says that upon review of the squad cars' dash-cam videos and statements from the Kesters and the officers involved, no evidence of excessive force could be substantiated. The release stated that "In this instance, the officers did not know the identities of the vehicle's occupants or their intentions until the situation was under control."

“We expect our officers to treat every citizen the same – in a safe, fair and equal manner,” said Barnhill in the release. “When stopping a vehicle with a license plate that has been reported stolen, I expect our officers to react to the potential threat in the same manner, without regard to the occupants’ race, gender, socio-economic status, or other such factors. I believe the community also expects such impartiality and professionalism from officers of the Paducah Police Department.”

The P.P.D. also consulted the state Department of Criminal Justice Training and the Kentucky League of Cities' Enforcement Specialist to ensure that its practices in felony traffic stop situations were up to code. The agencies made no recommendations for change or areas that needed adjustment.

The review did identify one area of concern: during the discussion between Officers Josh Bryant and Travis Counts and Kliff Kester, Officer Bryant "responded sarcastically" to a question asked by Kester. The department says the response was not profane but could have been more professional. The issue has been discussed with Officer Bryant, and no further action is expected. 

Read the Paducah Police Department release below

Kester Release 9-4-14

Rob Canning is a native of Murray, KY, a 2015 TV Production grad of Murray State. At MSU, he served as team captain of the Murray State Rowing Club. Rob's goal is to become a screenwriter, film director or producer and looks to the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie for inspiration. He appreciates good music, mainly favoring British rock n' roll, and approves of anything with Jack White's name on it. When not studying, rowing or writing, Rob enjoys spending his free time with a book or guitar.
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