Constable called 911 before FBI shootout; cases may be severed
SOMERSET, Ky. (WTVQ) – Court records show defense strategies are taking
shape for two Pulaski County constables accused of violating citizens’ civil rights.
In an effort to win release from jail where he’s been since his shootout with FBI agents on March 6, District 4 Constable Gary Baldock and friends and relatives, including a current sheriff and retired state police investigator, raise questions about the FBI’s handling of his arrest.
Meanwhile, veteran District 5 Constable Michael “Wally” Wallace acknowledges he is the primary target of the FBI’s civil rights probe. For that reason, his trial should be separated from Baldock’s or at least their civil rights allegations should be tried separately from the shooting.
A jury would have difficulty separating him from the shooting, even though he wasn’t even there, he argues in federal court filings.
The two men are set for trial June 29, 2020, in U.S. District Court in London. But a judge’s decisions in their pending motions could delay that date.
Wallace, a constable since 2006 with a tough anti-drug reputation, and Baldock, who was elected constable in November 2018 although he has a long record in law enforcement, were indicted Feb. 27, 2020, on federal charges of violating the civil rights of county residents between Nov. 18, 2018 and Sept. 24, 2019.
FBI agents went to their homes simultaneously on the morning of March 6 to serve the indictments. Wallace was arrested without incident and released later the same day.
Baldock ended up in a shootout and after being hospitalized, then jailed in Grayson County where he’s been ever since. He’s sought a detention hearing to earn his release.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years on the attempted murder charge and up to life for use of a firearm.
Both men face up to 10 years on the civil rights charges, which allege the two men “conspired together to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate” through bogus “unreasonable searches and seizures” that took property without probable cause, according to the charges.
While the FBI has painted a picture of an unprovoked shoot out, Baldock’s court-appointed attorney Andrew Stephens paints a picture of a different man, a man who was vehement in his anti-drug stance, to the point that while trying to help relatives, he was willing to take the “tough love” position he felt necessary to help them kick their addiction. (Click here to read Baldock motion and letters: wallace baldock release letters request
That stance cost him two marriages, although both ex-wives remain supportive of him, Stephens wrote, backed by affidavits and statements.
Citing an interview with his step-daughter, Tiffany Price, Stephens said, “Tiffany became very emotional having heard the 911 tapes whereas she describes it there is a clear bang on a door and immediately gun fire all of which took place in less than a second and a half. She does not believe under these circumstances that Gary would have pulled or used a weapon had he had any idea that the people seeking entry into his house were law enforcement. She, like so many others believe that the potential method and danger of same could have been avoided if Gary had simply been called to the Sheriff’s office to come in and chat.”
The attorney also cited current Casey County Sheriff Chad Weddle, who has known Baldock for as long as 30 years.
“Chad, while not knowing all the facts and surrounding circumstances, is concerned that the way the arrest was done was potentially terribly risky and unnecessary and even opined that if he was given a warrant to serve on Gary, he would have called Gary and asked him to come into the Sheriff’s department and was confident that Gary would have done that voluntarily and would not had to be physically removed in a shootout with FBI agents,” Stephens said, summarizing his conversation with the sheriff, who also has listened to the 911 tapes.
In addressing the shooting and arguing for his client’s release from jail, Stephens notes “counsel has seen the layout of the house, knows where the Defendant allegedly was, and cannot help but wonder based on the character information gleamed from above why it was necessary to effect the arrest in such a way as it was effected given the fact that the potential arrestee was a Constitutionally elected representative in Pulaski County and for all intents and purposes having not violated any law in his lifetime and yet had to have his house broken into, both front and back doors with shots exchanged.
“There is, in Kentucky, a statute which protects the homeowner from people breaking in and it is relevant in mitigation that the 911 calls came from Mr. Baldock to the 911 center that he was being broken into and the second call that he had been shot. As to whether or not a bullhorn and proper blue light notification took place before or after the shooting and break-in is a matter of proof, which counsel cannot speak to without significant review of the necessary discovery.
“It is also difficult to image the statute under which the Defendant is now charged by the grand jury that at that time in the morning presumed time of sleep that while officers were breaking into his home that the Defendant had time to commit a premeditated malice aforethought act of shooting and attempting to kill someone who the Defendant will say had not properly identified themselves as law enforcement and which is completely inconsistent with his prior behavior. Again, without arguing the merits of the case counsel realizes that the nature and circumstance of an allegation of premeditated attempt of murder of an FBI agent is serious to the extreme,” Stephens wrote, stating his client would surrender his badge and weapon, post the $50,000 equity in his home as security, agree to electronic monitoring and meet other stipulations if released.
In affidavits filed shortly after the early-morning shoot out, FBI special agent David J. Lowery claims the 5-10, 298-pound Baldock brandished a firearm and opened fire, despite being warned FBI agents were at his home.
Lowery wrote FBI agents went to Baldock’s home on Mountain View Drive near the Somerset Airport at about 6 a.m., and activated emergency lights. Through a loudspeaker, agents announced they were at the residence and on several occasions, urged Baldock to come out, Lowery said in the affidavit.
After Baldock would not respond, “FBI personnel breached the front and rear doors to the residence. Agents outside the rear entry to the residence observed Baldock standing inside the residence with his hand on a holstered pistol. An agent repeatedly ordered Baldock to drop the gun while identifying himself as ‘FBI.’ Baldock then brandished the firearm and began shooting at the agents,” Lowery wrote.
FBI agents returned fire, wounding Baldock. Lowery’s affidavit notes agents were wearing clothing that clearly identified them as law enforcement.
On a separate issue, Wallace’s attorney, Robert Norfleet Jr., of Somerset, wants his client either tried separately from Baldock completely or at least have attempted murder charges against Baldock tried separately from the civil rights violations against the two. (Click to read Michael Wallace’s motion: wallace baldock motion to sever lots of evidence)
In the motion, Wallace notes the evidence suggests he was the target for the FBI’s investigation, which began last fall. He argues it would be almost impossible for jurors to separate him from the shooting of an FBI agent even though he had nothing to do with it and isn’t charged with it.
“Based on discovery produced by the government thus far, it appears the government intends to introduce a large volume evidence in regard to the civil rights conspiracy allegations offense against Mr. Wallace. To successfully defend against the government’s allegations, Mr. Wallace will likewise present a large volume of rebuttal evidence,” Norfleet wrote, noting prosecutors think a trial would last five days.
“There is a substantial risk that a jury will not be able to separate the evidence from the evidence pertaining to the Baldock shooting incident offenses,” Norfleet added, repeating his argument the Wallace and Baldock cases should be completely separated, “or, at a minimum, the civil rights conspiracy allegations offense severed from the Baldock shooting.”
Wallace is a veteran constable first elected in 2006 who frequently posts bold press releases on his Facebook page about his crackdown and arrests on drug dealers. He attracted attention last fall when he started placing signs in yards saying “This Drug House Closed for Business, Compliments of the Pulaski County Constable’s Office, Michael “Wally” Wallace.”
The Grand Jury alleges his efforts to clean up the community went too far, violating civil rights along the way.
The FBI apparently began its investigation last fall and had notified local prosecutors. At least part of the probe targets searches in which confiscated items were not reported or under-reported. That included money and other items.
Legal experts tell WTVQ ABC 36 the judge likely will split the cases. That, among other factors, could lead to the trial date being continued from June.