The Pulaski County Grand Jury has indicted a former deputy with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) in connection to an accident he was involved in last spring while off duty.
Michael S. "Scott" West, 41, of Somerset, was formally charged Wednesday with 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.
The charges involved a near head-on collision that occurred that occurred the night of April 10. 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 truck, 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.
On Thursday, Pulaski County Schools Superintendent Patrick Richardson confirmed that West is no longer an SRO but didn't know his status with PCSO nor any details about the case.
Pulaski County Sheriff Greg Speck, when contacted, offered a timeline of events from the night of the accident until West's retirement at the end of May.
Sheriff Speck said that, according to witnesses, then-Dep. West was at home and off duty when he observed a vehicle driving recklessly through his neighborhood. In his civilian clothes, Dep. West got into his cruiser in an attempt to catch up to that driver. The deputy drove onto Ky. 1642 from his subdivision and was still attempting to catch the reckless driver when he struck the other vehicle in a curve.
The sheriff continued that he requested that Kentucky State Police work the collision that night.
"On May 7, I learned that alcohol was involved on the part of Scott West," Sheriff Speck said.
That same day, the sheriff ordered an Internal Affairs investigation and suspended West without pay. "His issued badge and weapons were taken pending the outcome of the administrative investigation per Pulaski County Sheriff's Office policy," Speck said.
West retired on May 31, according to Sheriff Speck, "in face of administrative charges through PCSO." Because the criminal investigation is being handled by KSP, he couldn't offer further details.
At press time, court records indicated that West was served with the indictment on Thursday and released on a $15,000 cash/property bond. He is scheduled to appear in Pulaski Circuit Court for arraignment on November 21.
West is being represented in the criminal case by local attorney Joseph B. Venters. He has also retained John Gillum to represent him for a civil complaint that was filed on October 10 by Louisville-based attorney Jonathan B. Hollan on behalf of Branscum.
That civil lawsuit may be delayed by West's prosecution. On Wednesday, the same day that the indictment was returned, 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."
A hearing for that motion has been scheduled before Pulaski Circuit Judge Jeffrey Burdette on November 15.
The indictment of a person by a grand jury is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty or otherwise pleads guilty.