Update: A violent home invasion at the home of Harlin and Reneva Tarter has resulted in multiple felony charges for Rickey Stephen Brooks, 35, of Glasgow. Police have charged Brooks with 1st degree burglary, 2nd degree assault, 1st degree criminal mischief, 1st degree wanton endangerment of a police officer, 3rd degree assault of a police or parole officer, and disarming of a peace officer.
We spoke with the victim, Harlin Tarter today. “It was quite an ordeal,” he said. Tarter said he had no idea why the man picked his home and property. “I looked out the window and he was driving through the field. He’d make a donut then drive through the fence into the yard and make another one. He was running back and forth through the fence doing donuts.” Tarter said he ran outside and tried to stop the truck, but Brooks acted like he didn’t see him and continued to destroy Tarter’s property. “I knew I had to try to stop this guy somehow,” he said. That’s when he grabbed a shotgun. “I figured if this guy saw me with a shotgun, he’d leave. Well…he didn’t, he just kept tearing up all my stuff." Tarter said each pass that Brooks made, he fired at the body of the truck, attempting to stop him anyway he could. “He didn't even act like it fazed him,” he said.
Tarter said Brooks then stopped, got out and began yelling. Tarter said he told Brooks he didn't want to hurt him, he just wanted to stop him and for him to leave. “I thought I was getting through to him, but that’s when he started towards me.” Tarter said Brooks hit him without warning. “I busted him one pretty good, too.” Tarter said. At that point, Tarter said that Brooks went back out in the field and laid down. “I just told him to get out of here, He said I’ll leave, but I’ll be back.” It was then Tarter said he got back in his truck and began driving all over the yard again, crashing into a nearby tree. According to Tarter, Brooks got into Tarter’s truck, which was in the driveway with the keys inside, started it up and began spinning the tires. That’s when Tarter called the police, and grabbed a rifle.
Police arrived within minutes but Brooks had already forced his way into the home when they got there. Police reported that Brooks was heavily intoxicated and violently resisted, trying to grab both Tarter's rifle and one officer's weapon, but was subdued and taken into custody. Apparently Brooks was so drunk, he didn't know where he was, nor why he was there. Tarter said, "I asked him if I'd ever wronged him in any way. I told him if I had, I'd make it right with him. I'd never seen him before, he just wanted to fight." Tarter said he was glad the situation didn't end up any worse. "The 'ol boy's got some problems he'll have to deal with, but it ended up as well as it could have, I guess. It's a wonder he didn't get killed. I've got some bumps and bruises, but I'm ok."
Sheriff Shane Doyle said that the situation could have gone many different ways, and far worse than the ending result. "According to the clinical report from TJ Samson Hospital, obtained with Brooks' permission, Brooks had a BAC of .225 at approx. 5:30 pm," said Doyle. "This is more than 3 times the legal limit, and a few hours past when the incident took place." He said when alcohol or drugs are involved, a bad situation can quickly turn disastrous. "In my nearly 11 years of law enforcement, I can say you never really know what someone under the influence of a drug or alcohol is capable of."
Doyle also said that both Tarter and the sheriff's office would have been justified with the use of deadly force, but thankfully it wasn't necessary in this incident. "Mr. Tarter was absolutely justified in his use of deadly force using his shotgun on the truck. He would have been justified as well when Mr. Brooks entered his home. Also, either Deputy Ritter or myself would have been justified in the use of deadly force because of the rifle that Brooks had his hand on when we entered the home. The situation played out that neither Tarter, Ritter, or myself felt that it was the last option we had, so we chose not to use deadly force. No one wants to do that. With all of the negative press that police have gotten all over the country, situations like these prove that cops aren't just trigger happy people seeking to inflict violence on others."
So when can someone use deadly force? It's been the focus of many debates recently across the country. "I feel that Mr. Tarter absolutely acted appropriately," Sheriff Doyle said. "We never know how we'll react to a situation like that until it happens to us. Kentucky has something called the "Castle Doctrine". It basically means that our home is our castle, and no one has the right to deprive us of our feeling of safety and security at our home. If someone comes to your home and is placing your life or health in danger, you can respond with appropriate force. This could have gone a thousand different ways. The way it ended was the best possible outcome."