A former deputy with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) pleaded guilty today (Thursday) to DUI and wanton endangerment charges resulting from an April 2019 crash.
Michael S. "Scott" West, 41, of Somerset, was indicted last November on two counts of first-degree Wanton Endangerment, Operating a Motor Vehicle under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs with aggravator (1st Offense), and Failure to Wear Seat Belts.
In exchange for pleading guilty to the first offense DUI and two wanton endangerment counts, the special prosecutor recommended that West be placed on pretrial diversion for two years on the Class D felonies and serve a total of 10 days (on weekends) for the misdemeanor DUI.
Should West successfully complete the pretrial diversion with no violations of law or other conditions of the agreement, the conviction would be expunged from his record. If he fails to successfully complete the diversion, he could face up to two years in prison.
The case involved a near head-on collision that occurred the night of April 10, 2019. Kentucky State Police reported at the time that West was in his sheriff's cruiser on Slate Branch Road (Ky. 1642) heading toward Ky. 914 when he struck a Ford F-150, which was pulling a trailer and was headed in the opposite direction. The truck's driver -- Shane Branscum, 40, of Somerset -- reportedly said he saw headlights in his lane of traffic, but didn't know it was a sheriff's deputy because the flashing lights weren't on.
Units that initially arrived at the scene said West told them he was following a car that he had seen go speeding through the neighborhood, according to Whiles.
"They sort of hit, almost head-on but off-center," said Whiles. "The front left side of the truck hit the front left side of the cruiser."
West was flown out to the University of Kentucky Medical Center for treatment of his injuries -- which included a broken leg. Branscum and his passenger, Justin Mayfield, 22, went to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital from treatment of their injuries.
At the time, West served as School Resource Officer for Southwestern High School. He had been with the sheriff's office since 2007. He retired on May 31, according to Sheriff Greg Speck, "in face of administrative charges through PCSO" following an internal affairs investigation the sheriff ordered upon learning alcohol had been involved.
Local Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery and his staff recused because of West's law enforcement ties. The case was prosecuted by Jackie Steele, commonwealth's attorney for Laurel and Knox counties. West was defended by local attorney Joey Venters.
The resolution of the criminal case clears the way for civil litigation to proceed. That lawsuit was filed last October by Louisville-based attorney Jonathan B. Hollan on behalf of Branscum. The same day that the indictment was returned, another Somerset attorney, John S. Gillum, filed a motion for a protective order to "stay a continuation of the civil proceedings against [West] until such time as the criminal investigation and/or case against him is concluded."
Gillum and co-counsel Curt M. Graham filed West's answer to the civil complaint on February 13.