Suspect’s death following arrest under investigation

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LOUISA, Ky. (WTVQ) – State Police are investigating the death of a suspect who died a short time after his arrest.  Investigators say last Friday night, a sergeant with the Louisa Police Department was attending the Lawrence County High School graduation.

Louisa Police Sergeant Steven Wilburn says he saw a vehicle being driven by 56-year old Billy J. Collins of Louisa, drive off the road, into a grassy area and into a ditch where the vehicle got stuck.  Sergeant Wilburn says he made contact with Collins and determined Collins was driving on a suspended license and didn’t have proper auto insurance.

Sergeant Wilburn says Collins began yelling and cursing at people who were attending the Lawrence County High School graduation.  Sergeant Wilburn says he arrested Collins and charged him with, among other things, with Disorderly Conduct.

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Collins was taken to the Louisa Police Department where he reportedly refused to comply with all officer commands.  Sergeant Wilburn says Collins became combative and hit him multiple times.  Investigators say Collins then ran into the police department’s foyer and barricaded himself inside.

Additional officers from the Louisa Police Department and Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene.  State Police say a member of the sheriff’s department deployed his agency issued taser through a small crack in the door, striking Collins.

Investigators say the taser was ineffective and that Collins removed the probes.  Sergeant Wilburn says he was able to gain access to the foyer through a secondary door.  Sergeant Wilburn says after Collins refused to comply with his commands, he deployed his agency issued taser, striking Collins.

Sergeant Wilburn says the taser was effective, but that Collins continued to resist and would not comply with officer’s commands.  State Police say officers on the scene continued struggling with Collins and issued strikes with closed, empty hands and also with their agency issued asp as Collins reportedly remained combative.

After the struggle, Collins was restrained and placed in a seated position, according to State Police.  Investigators say officer’s quickly requested EMS respond to the police station and prior to their arrival, Collins reportedly began exhibiting signs of a medical emergency.  Netcare EMS provided medical assistance and transported Collins to Three Rivers Medical Center, where he later died, according to State Police.

An autopsy was conducted on Collins on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort.  The final report is pending additional examination and will be available once it’s complete, according to State Police.

Prior medical issues are being reviewed and examined as part of the ongoing investigation, according to State Police.  Results of the preliminary investigation do not indicate criminal actions involving any law enforcement officers, according to State Police.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.