Former officer’s record shows questions regarding his use of force


By Sam Wildow

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TROY — The police record for former Troy Police Officer Eric Kilbourne, who was recently fired from the Troy Police Department in connection with an incident where a handcuffed suspect was injured, shows instances as far back as 2008 where he was reprimanded for his use of force.

The following information was provided by the city of Troy via a public records request:

• November 2008

In a letter of reprimand dated Nov. 4, 2008, Kilbourne was “alleged to have threatened to use a taser to gain compliance from a suspect involved in an assault.” It went on to state, “Further, you were to have deployed this less than lethal force and later charged one of the suspects with obstructing when they were within their constitutional rights not to respond to your requests.”

The reprimand stated that some of Kilbourne’s work in this case “was commendable,” but his “threatened use of force, display of the (taser), and subsequent obstructing charge were poor decisions and violations of department policy.”

The letter suggested Kilbourne was potentially overreaching in order to come to an arrest when “the best course of action is to walk away.” The letter stated that Kilbourne should have had the background knowledge to know when to walk away with his five years of service at that point. Kilbourne joined the Troy Police Department in 2003.

• December 2012

In an oral consultation dated Dec. 18, 2012, then Sgt. Jeff Kunkleman, now a captain, discussed speaking with Kilbourne about inadequacies in his reports and ways to improve writing them, as well as addressed Kilbourne’s recent use of force in incidents. One of the incidents involved a suspect pinned against a vehicle, and a separate incident involved Kilbourne reportedly using force against a subject in an alleged domestic dispute.

Kunkleman stated they “discussed ways to better or more thoroughly describe the events (that) caused you to use force and to better document the exact force that was used.”

Kunkleman also advised they discussed ways to prevent use of force being necessary, such as “slowing down, when possible, and waiting for additional officers for backup and/or to discuss methods of resolving complex calls to service.”

Kunkleman noted, “I did not feel that your use of force was outside of the Troy Police Department Policy. I did feel that your reporting was inadequate and that additional measures could have been taken to potentially reduce the need to use force or go ‘hands on.’”

The end of the letter noted this consultation was not considered discipline but rather a documentation of their conversation.

• January 2017

In a report dated Jan. 26, 2017, there is a description of Kilbourne making “an arrest on a subject who fled the scene on two previous occasions in the same shift.”

The report stated Kilbourne should have stopped the subject from getting back into a vehicle, and “Kilbourne advised he thought he was going into a residence, not the car.”

Once the suspect was in the car, Kilbourne reportedly opened the door and grabbed the suspect. Kilbourne told the suspect he was under arrest, and the suspect pulled away. At this point, Kilbourne “put his weight on top of him and began striking him in the face.” The report alleged that Kilbourne “never gave the male a chance to comply, as he immediately grabbed him.”

The report went on to note that Kilbourne was told “that strikes to the face should be limited to when there is some danger to himself or someone else. If a subject just pulls away from him … a strike to the face would not be recommended.”

• February 2017

In a report dated Feb. 21, 2017, Kilbourne’s use of force involving a handcuffed individual was questioned. An unnamed supervisor had questions of “how a handcuffed person could push off of a cruiser, and why he was subsequently taken to the ground.” The report also noted an argument Kilbourne had with the male suspect prior to that point.

According to the report, Kilbourne said the suspect’s back was against the cruiser and Kilbourne had his hand against the suspect’s chest for control. Kilbourne advised the suspect was “out of control” and that “the only option was to take him to the ground” once the suspect pushed off the cruiser.

The report noted that the “conversation ended with my request for Ptl. Kilbourne to make a conscious effort to not be baited into arguments, as such arguments will usually elevate the tension in the situation. As a result, a use of force may take place that could otherwise have been avoided.”

• November-December 2020

In a letter dated Dec. 27, 2020, Kilbourne was again instructed on the writing of his reports. The letter stated, “He was receptive as well as immediately and proactively open about his report writing limitations and difficulties. He was open for me to show him more often how to write better or clarify.”

The letter referenced a report dated Nov. 29, 2020, in which Kilbourne used a taser and pepper spray against a suspect whom he feared “was reaching for a weapon in his waistband.” A large folding knife was later found in the suspect’s right pocket, “where he had reached his hand into it earlier.”

The letter stated it was the “fourth or fifth revision” of that report, and copies of the “marked-up” original and the “cleaned-up” and “sufficient” version were included in the file.

• February 2021

In a reprimand issued by Chief Shawn McKinney dated April 15 of this year, Kilbourne was reprimanded for insubordination. The reprimand was in reference to an incident that took place during the third shift roll call on Feb. 26 and involved Kilbourne’s remarks toward a supervisor.

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