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Father of slain deputy says LMPD keeps changing the narrative of son’s death

Brandon Shirley's father, Brian (center), stands beside his wife, Deborah (left), and local attorney Sam Aguiar (right).
Brandon Shirley's father, Brian (center), stands beside his wife, Deborah (left), and local attorney Sam Aguiar (right).

After Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Deputy Brandon Shirley was shot and killed in August while working off-duty, Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields held a press conference where she told the public “with a feeling of confidence” that Shirley was “targeted” and “ambushed.”

But Shirley’s father, Brian, said investigators have since given him varying narratives about his son’s death: The family was told that, actually, Brandon’s killing was part of a robbery. Then they said they were told it was possible carjacking gone wrong. 

Most recently, Brian said he was told Brandon’s death was the result of an accidental shooting.

“We don’t understand how you get from point A to point Z, with nothing in between,” he said. “That’s where we’re struggling because they aren’t being transparent with us. We just don’t know what’s going on. As a parent, we should know.”

There are currently few public details about what happened in the early morning hours of August 5. Police have said Brandon was working an off-duty security job at Rockford Lane Auto Sales. At around 2:30 a.m., they say, someone walked up to the 26-year-old’s unmarked pickup truck and shot him. Brandon was transported to the University of Louisville hospital where he later died from his injuries.

“It is just sickening,” Shields said at a press conference later that morning. “We will make an arrest. We will make an arrest.”

LMPD later released a photo of a truck they said may have been involved in the shooting. There haven’t been any updates since then.

The Shirley family is now working with local attorney Sam Aguiar to demand the Louisville Metro Police Department be more transparent about its investigation into Brandon’s death. 

Aguiar said the family is not planning any legal action at the moment. Instead, they are trying to pressure LMPD to be more open with the public and Brandon’s family.

He represented the family of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police last year, in a wrongful death lawsuit against Louisville Metro that concluded with a record settlement.

At Aguiar’s office Tuesday, Brian Shirley told reporters that the lead LMPD detective working on Brandon’s case told the family they are no longer allowed to contact him. Brian said he thinks it’s because the family has not stopped pushing for answers. 

“It’s been 110 days, 110 days of me getting up every morning and looking at my wife and lying to her and telling her, ‘Today’s going to be the day, babe,’” he said. “And going to bed telling her ‘Tomorrow’s going to be the day,’ lying to her again just to give us some semblance of hope here.”

Brandon’s parents said they were told by investigators that there was video footage of the shooting and were given specific details about what happened. Brian said he’s asked to see the video, but LMPD hasn’t provided it, saying “it’s evidence.”

In a statement, LMPD said it is committed to bringing Brandon's "killer or killers to justice," and its command staff would be in contact with his parents.

"Balancing the integrity of a murder investigation versus the very real needs and desires of survivors’ families is an excruciatingly difficult, constantly evolving process," a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement. "Our commitment is to the strongest possible level of investigation, free of outside influence, bias, or opinion."

By not releasing the footage, Louisville officials have broken their promise to promptly release video of officer-involved shootings after the police killing of Taylor, Aguiar said. He said that has been the protocol with LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit, which is handling the investigation into Brandon’s killing.

“We know that there are cameras that were across the street [from where Brandon was killed], we know that there’s cameras right next door and we know that there’s been ample opportunity for them to release it,” Aguiar said. 

The Shirley family also announced they are increasing the award for any information leading to the arrest of Brandon’s killer or killers. Local foundations and federal law enforcement agencies already put out a combined reward of $80,000. The family is now offering an additional $10,000. 

The family is asking anyone with information about the shooting to submit a tip at BrandonShirley.com

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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