Detective exonerated in shooting incident

Published 9:52 am Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lawrence County Sheriff Detective Aaron Bollinger is back to work after an August grand jury did not indict him for his involvement in the June 9 shooting of an Ashland, Ky., man.

“He returned to work (Wednesday),” Sheriff Jeff Lawless said. “The grand jury met and decided to not indict him. That cleared him of any charges.”

Evidence was turned over to the grand jury after Johnny Stapleton, 28, received injuries during a traffic stop when Bollinger’s gun discharged, striking him in the forearm and left check.

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Stapleton had been indicted secretly on drug charges this spring by another Lawrence County Grand Jury. Law enforcement officers had observed Stapleton earlier on the evening of the shooting, but had lost sight of him. They then went to areas in the city that they believed he usually frequented.

Two officers saw Stapleton on the driver’s side of a car stopped at North Eighth and Lawrence streets. Bollinger approached the car and his firearm discharged, according to a statement by Lawless at the time of the shooting.

Bollinger, who was placed on administrative leave from the sheriff’s office immediately following the incident, had been working as a member of the Lawrence County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force that evening.

Because of that County Prosecutor J.B. Collier recused himself from the case. Brenda Neville, a Chesapeake attorney, was appointed to prosecute.

“Certainly we are glad to have him back and to be moving forward,” Lawless said. “Unfortunately in law enforcements there are situations that are dangerous. We are human beings like anyone else and accidents do happen.”

Lawless said he was pleased that the grand jury did not find the accident a criminal occurrence.

“Our goal at the sheriff’s office is to continue to fight drug crimes and make our community safer,” he said.

Stapleton remains in the Scioto County Jail facing three counts of trafficking in crack cocaine. He continues to receive medical monitoring.

Bollinger was unable to be reached for comment.