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UPDATE: Williamson Police Officer Dies; Death Under Investigation by KSP

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 5/7/13 @ 6:45 p.m.
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Heartbreak continues in Mingo County after the death of a second law enforcement officer this year.

Last week we told you about 27-year-old Jefferson Taylor III. He was a Williamson Police officer who was arrested for driving a cruiser while under the influence. Taylor was off duty at that time.

Monday afternoon, that same officer was found dead at a relative's home in Pike County, Ky.

One woman we spoke with says she just can't figure out what's happening in her hometown.

“I never dreamed anything would happen like him being dead now,” Wanda Gibson said. “It's sad. Real sad.”

There are a lot of dark gray clouds over Williamson. And that's exactly how Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel describes what's been happening there lately.

“Mingo County,” Rockel said. “It just seems that they have a dark cloud over us. I don't know what it is.”

The loss of Officer Taylor comes just weeks after the sheriff was murdered in downtown Williamson.

And though Taylor was off the job when he died, it doesn't lessen the pain.

“We lost a brother yesterday,” Rockel said. “We sure did. We lost another brother.”

The chief says he feels like the whole county is under siege.

“I don't know if it's the devils way of attacking us, you know ... Like he's got a choke hold on us,” Rockel said.

It’s a shadow Gibson is also feeling.

“It's been gloomy and, you know -- you just don't feel safe anywhere anymore,” she said.

It's a sentiment shared by many as the community bands together to overcome yet another challenge.

“Spiritually, physically, mentally ... We need help,” Rockel said.



UPDATE 5/6/13 @ 9:55 p.m.
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A Williamson, W.Va. Police officer has died, and his death is under investigation by Kentucky State Police troopers in Pike County, Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel tells WSAZ.com.

Jefferson Taylor III, 27, of McCarr, Ky., was found unresponsive about 4:30 p.m. Monday at a relative's home in Pike County, Ky.

The cause of death is unknown.

Just last week, Taylor was suspended without pay after he was accused of driving under the influence in a crash involving his cruiser. Taylor was off duty at the time of the crash.

Taylor had been charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and leaving the scene of an accident.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 5/1/13
PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A Williamson, W.Va., police officer has been suspended without pay after troopers say he was under the influence when he crashed his cruiser.

Kentucky State Police arrested Jefferson Taylor III, 27, of McCarr, Ky., just before 4 a.m. Tuesday in Hardy, Ky. That's in Pike County.

Taylor is charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and leaving the scene of an accident.

Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel tells WSAZ.com that Tayor III was on the department for nearly two years. Chief Rockel called Taylor a good police officer and says this is all hard for him to believe.

Kentucky State Police say Taylor wrecked his cruiser, and then left the scene of the accident. Witnesses told KSP that Taylor appeared to be under the influence.

Troopers found Taylor at his parents' house.

According to the report by troopers, Taylor failed a one-leg stand test, failed the walk and turn test, and missed his heel-to-toe test several times. Troopers say Taylor lost his balance several times during the tests.

Troopers say Taylor told them he had taken sleeping medication and drank a Four Loco. Later he told troopers that he went home and went to sleep, never took any medication or drank any more alcohol, although troopers say he smelled of alcohol.

According to the complaint, Taylor submitted to a blood test.

Chief Rockel tells WSAZ.com he was proud of Taylor's work as an officer, and this comes to him as a shock.

Rockel says that Taylor was not on duty when the arrest happened. WSAZ asked him about policy regarding driving a police car when not on duty. Rockel says the department's policy is officers can drive the cruiser when not on duty, but cannot take it outside city limits. Taylor violated this policy.

Taylor has been suspended without pay.

Rockel tells WSAZ.com that his office will investigate after Kentucky State Police wrap up their investigation.

Taylor was arraigned Tuesday morning. A pre-trial hearing has been set for August.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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