Officer identified in fatal shooting of 19-year-old

Phillip Davenport, commonly referred to as Nick, graduated high school in May 2020. | Photo contributed

CORBIN — A Whitley County grand jury chose to not charge a Corbin Police Department officer involved in the Feb. 14 fatal shooting of a 19-year-old Corbin man.

Whitley County indictments were returned Monday and Sergeant Stephen Meadors was cleared by the grand jury in the death of Phillip Davenport.

Detective Sergeant Billy Correll with Kentucky State Police Post 11 appeared before the grand jury in regards to the death investigation. After his presentation, the grand jury found "that Sergeant Meadors' use of force was lawful and justified under the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky," according to the report from the grand jury.

The grand jury, by unanimous vote, concluded no true bill of indictment on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and reckless homicide. The grand jury also concluded by unanimous vote that no further investigation or charges are warranted concerning the death of Davenport.

According to a statement from Corbin Police Chief Rusty Hedrick in February, Meadors, a 12-year veteran in the force, was off duty and at his home on Dogwood Cove in Corbin at 2:45 a.m. Feb. 14 when a neighbor contacted him about a person, later identified as Davenport, causing a disturbance and attempting to force entry into a neighbor’s vehicle.

Chief Hedrick said in his press release that Meadors contacted Corbin Police Department to notify them of the complaint and on-duty officers were en route to the residence.

According to Kentucky State Police’s preliminary investigation, Meadors was contacted at his home by a neighbor in reference to a prowler complaint. The press release provided by KSP in February said the officer went outside and was confronted by Davenport when an altercation between the two took place.

The statement from Hedrick said Meadors observed Davenport from the front door of his residence. After being confronted, the statement said Davenport ran at Meadors’ location at the front door of the residence in an aggressive manner, striking his hands against his chest and screaming.

“Davenport ignored multiple commands to stop issued by Corporal Meadors,” read the statement from Hedrick, adding that fearing for his personal welfare and that of his family’s inside the residence, Meadors discharged his agency issued firearm, striking Davenport.

Davenport's family and friends said he would have never acted in a violent manner or hurt anyone.

His stepmother, Elizabeth (Gross) Davenport, said in an interview with the Times-Tribune in February that he loved joking around and making people laugh, a sentiment echoed by his aunt, Connie Davenport.

"He always wanted to make people laugh," Connie said in a previous interview with The Times-Tribune. "He was a goofball."

The family says Davenport had left a friend's house, which was two blocks over from his mom's house, in the early morning hours of Feb. 14 to get some air. He was grieving the death of his great-grandmother. Just the day prior, on Saturday, Feb. 13, he had buried his great-grandmother, who he was very close with.

"He was a sweet boy, a very sweet boy. He wouldn't hurt anybody," Connie said.

Davenport, who went by Nick, was a 2020 graduate of Whitley County High School. His birthday was coming up on Feb. 27.

"He was full of life and love," Elizabeth said. "One of the sweetest kids ever. He loved playing video games and would play for hours."

"He had a such a beautiful smile that could melt anyone's heart," she added.

Connie said she believes Meadors was checking to secure his neighborhood, but she said Davenport was a 120-pound teenager and unarmed. KSP nor Corbin Police Department released whether or not he had a weapon as the investigation is ongoing.

According to a press release from Kentucky State Police Post 11, KSP was called to investigate the shooting shortly after 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 14. Any officer involved shooting is investigated by another agency.

Medical aid was administered to Davenport by the Corbin Police and Fire Departments, according to Hedrick's press release.

Davenport was transported from the scene by Whitley County EMS to Baptist Health Hospital in Corbin where he was pronounced dead by the Whitley County Coroner. An autopsy was performed by the Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s Office.

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