An attempt to serve an arrest warrant turned deadly early Sunday morning.
According to Kentucky State Police Trooper Jeff Gregory, Public Affairs Officer for Post 4 in Elizabethtown, Hodgenville Police Department Officers James Richardson and Jaron Skillman were attempting to serve an arrest warrant for Benjamin Burba, 59, of Hodgenville, at his apartment at 631 S. Lincoln Blvd., at around 2 a.m.
“(There was) an attempt to execute the warrant, when a struggle and fight ensued,” Gregory said. Officers attempted to tase Burba, but the attempt failed.
According to KSP, Burba then reached for what officers believed was a rifle — but later found was an air rifle — and pointed it at them. “It came down to (they) had to make a decision on what to do,” Johnson said. “We regret that it came to that point.”
Gregory said Skillman fired what turned out to be the fatal shots. Burba was taken to Hardin Memorial Hospital, where he died shortly before 3 a.m.
Whether or not the officers involved were on paid administrative leave during the investigation could not be confirmed by press time.
Gregory said the warrant the officers were trying to serve was for 3rd degree criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, and noted that Burba had been arrested earlier in the week after refusing to leave a local restaurant.
Johnson said Burba has a history with HPD.
“He’s been in and out... this round started coming on in August, where he’s going into the stores cussing, asking them for money, and they want him removed because he was bothering their customers,” Johnson said. “Normally, he complied. Until last Monday when we arrested him.”
In that incident, Johnson said, Burba resisted arrest and there was a fight with officers at a restaurant, and there Burba was ‘dry-tased.’
Johnson said the last incident, which resulted in the warrants being served Sunday morning, after allegedly attempting to shoplift donuts.
“(He) started throwing the donuts in the store, at people... (and then) he was gone,” Johnson said. But because police didn’t witness the incident, they couldn’t arrest him.
With Burba’s history of mental illness, Johnson said, “we felt it was safer to send two officers.”
Skillman is the newest member of HPD, having joined the force in September.