By Allyson Dix
Two Barren County Deputies will not face prosecution following the deadly force used in the shooting death of Dillon E. Walker.
The conclusion made by Commonwealth Attorney John Gardener, according to documents obtained from Kentucky State Police (KSP), is that Deputies Jason Morgan and (former) Trey Wyatt are statutorily justified in their actions taken in the early morning hours of July 9, 2022.
In a letter dated Nov. 30, 2022, from Gardener to KSP details numerous reasons for declining prosecution of the deputies.
“Essentially, deadly force is justified if someone subjectively believes deadly force is necessary to protect his life or the life of another,” Gardner’s letter states, “…Based upon the fact that Walker was apparently armed with two deadly weapons, refused numerous verbal commands, and waived the gun at the deputies immediately prior to Deputy Morgan firing the fatal shot, I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to prove the use of deadly force was not justified. As a result, I believe KRS 503.085 dictates that I decline prosecution.”
Initially, a replica BB gun was incorrectly referenced in the November letter; however, an amended letter was sent in Jan. 2023 correctly identifying the weapon but did not change Gardener’s decision regarding prosecution.
The Barren County Progress, through the Open Records Act, obtained and reviewed both body cams worn by the deputies as well as the investigation documents and interviews, which is the source for the details of this story.
Both deputies were the sole responders to the scene last July and the last two people to see Walker alive after a complaint from a resident came in shortly before 4:00 a.m. on Paul Clark Road in Cave City. The complaint was initiated as a truck appeared to have crashed into a child’s swing set and became stuck in the yard.
The rural property, located on a dead-end road, was very dark and heavy rain was falling.
Wyatt arrived first at the scene and made brief contact with Walker before he fled. Walker, at that moment, abandoned a 5-year-old child who was with him before he fled. That child ran to Wyatt and the deputy secured him safely in his patrol car.
Moments later, Deputy Jason Morgan arrived and the two began looking for Walker on foot in a dark field.
Walker suddenly appears within view of the body cam and deputies soon realize he is armed with two deadly weapons: a knife and a pistol. Officers pleaded with Walker dozens of times to drop his weapons to no avail. Deputies varied between hard commands and reminders of the scared child awaiting his return.
Walker can be heard continuously saying “kill me” and “shoot me” and deputies would respond by saying that’s not what they wanted to do and begging him to comply with them for the duration of contact with Walker.
Walker can be seen moving away from the deputies and then towards them, and walking side-to-side, often times mumbling and sometimes turning away. The vegetation was at least waist-high in most areas.
Initially, deputies considered utilizing tasers until they realized he was holding a pistol, which Wyatt would later discover was a Glock-style replica BB gun.
Walker becomes more consistent in facing the deputies, appearing more contemplative and quieter, and less wandering erratically. He appears at one point to use the large knife in his upper right thigh area. Due to the overgrown vegetation from the body cam point of view, it is unclear what he was doing.
Wyatt can be heard saying with a quiet yet worrisome tone, “He’s pointing it right at us, Jason,” moments before Morgan fired the one fatal shot, taking Walker to the ground. No other gunshots were fired.
It is clear in the body cam videos that the deputies are unsure of Walker’s status after he falls, and in tactical form and still giving commands, approach him cautiously.
After checking for a pulse, which none was found per deputies, Morgan directed Wyatt to secure the gun Walker had in hand.
In the body cam video, although due to an appropriate redaction blur out of respect for Walker and his family, Wyatt can be seen removing the magazine of Walker’s pistol and verbally shocked to see it was a BB gun.
According to the investigation, it was approximately three minutes between the deputies realizing Walker was armed with lethal weapons and the 4:09 a.m. fatal gunshot.
Morgan can be heard on his radio, “Shots fired, shots fired, one suspect down.”
On July 21, 2022, Walker’s wife, Brittany Walker, in a recorded phone call, told an inmate housed in a Sumner County Jail that Dillon Walker had referenced plans to commit suicide by cop for several months before July 9, 2022.
Other extensive details were revealed by the wife to police including indicating Walker had been dealing with mental health issues for some time. She also revealed that three weeks before the incident, Portland Tennessee Police Department had picked Walker up for a mental health evaluation at a hospital, but was released less than 12 hours later.
According to the final medical examiner’s autopsy report, Walker’s immediate cause of death was central nervous system trauma due to a gunshot wound to the head. It was ruled a homicide.
Walker’s blood toxicology report was positive for methamphetamine, amphetamine, buprenorphine, and norbuprenorphine. Urine results were the same but with the addition of 7-Aminoclonazepam.
Walker was born in Oceanside, California, and was 31 years old at the time of his death. He resided in Westmoreland, Tn.
After the tragedy occurred and while awaiting other crews to arrive at the scene, Deputy Wyatt can be heard breathlessly whispering a prayer not far from Walker’s lifeless body, “Thank you, God. Thank you for keeping us safe, Thank you, Lord. Be with this man, Lord.”