In Kentucky, Suicide outside of Courthouse Raises Questions of Security

State court administrators will evaluate security at the Pulaski County Courthouse after a man who apparently was upset with a judge's decision shot and killed himself in the parking lot Wednesday.

The courthouse in downtown Somerset, which houses both court-system and county offices, has the lowest level of security among judicial facilities in Kentucky, according to the Administrative Office of the Courts. There are several public entrances, and people are not required to pass through metal detectors to get into the building.

The shooting on courthouse property has raised concerns that instead of turning the pistol on himself, the distraught man could just as easily have gone into the building and shot someone.

"We are taking it seriously," said Leigh Anne Hiatt, spokeswoman for AOC.

Hiatt said Vic Travis, unit manager of the Pretrial Services Division of Court Security at AOC, sent a staff member to Somerset yesterday to begin evaluating whether the shooting shows a need for security improvements.

The incident Wednesday happened about 11 a.m., shortly after David A. Taylor, 36, of Somerset had been in court on a domestic-violence allegation by his wife.

Cindy Taylor said in her request for an emergency protective order that her husband had threatened her because he had seen a phone record of her talking to someone else. David Taylor threatened to kill the person she'd talked to and said "he will see that I get mine," Cindy Taylor said in her request.

Cindy Taylor had earlier taken out a protective order in 1994, saying David Taylor had hit her and threatened to kill her in front of their child. He also had attempted suicide, she said then.

At the hearing Wednesday, Family Court Judge Debra H. Lambert awarded temporary custody of the couple's child to Cindy Taylor, directed that David Taylor's visits be supervised and ordered him to undergo a mental evaluation.

Somerset police said Taylor left the courthouse upset. He went to the parking lot behind the courthouse and got a gun from a relative's vehicle, police said.

After witnesses heard a shot, police found Taylor lying in the parking lot with a bullet wound to the chest. An officer gave Taylor first aid, but he was pronounced dead at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital.

Lambert, wife of state Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert, has been the object of protests by a citizen's group critical of some of her rulings and their treatment in court.

However, Somerset police detective Lt. Doug Nelson, who is investigating the case, said he saw nothing in Lambert's handling of the case or the ruling that was out of the ordinary. "I think it was proper," Nelson said.