The county will pay $75,000 in damages to Pedro and Tammie Ortiz on behalf of Constable David Whitlock, who shot Tammie Ortiz in November 2011. That brings the cost of the shooting for Jefferson County taxpayers to six figures, since the county has already paid more than $37,000 to Whitlock’s attorneys.
The settlement says that the purpose of the agreement is to avoid the expense of a trial and shouldn’t “be construed as an admission of liability.”
The former constable is one in a long line of troubled constables who have run amok in Kentucky for years. A joint investigation by The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and WAVE-3 News found constables making questionable arrests and using unauthorized blue lights to engage in dangerous high-speed pursuits. In one case, a constable shot an unarmed man who had his hands up.
The constables did it all without any required law enforcement training. (Read our “Kentucky Constables: Untrained and Unaccountable.”)
Whitlock said he followed Ortiz after security at the Pleasure Ridge Park Walmart asked for his assistance in catching a suspected shoplifter. Whitlock fired on Ortiz, who was inside her car, after he said she ran over his foot.
Whitlock was charged in the shooting and agreed to resign his elected office as part of a plea deal.
Josh Abner, communications director for the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, said in an email that the settlement “represents the most expedient and economical outcome of the matter for taxpayers in Jefferson County.”
Abner noted that the Metro government was required by law to defend the constable.
Reporter Kate Howard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (502) 814.6546.