CORBIN — The officer involved in the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old Corbin man was officially identified Friday as the Corbin Police Department released more details about the shooting. Family and friends of the teenager say the details don't portray the man they knew.
According to a statement from Corbin Police Chief Rusty Hedrick, Stephen 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 Phillip 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 goes on to say that the officer went outside and was confronted by Davenport when an altercation between the two took place.
The statement from Hedrick said Corporal Meadors observed Davenport from the front door of his residence. After being confronted, the statement says 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,” reads 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 say he would have never acted in a violent manner or hurt anyone.
His stepmother, Elizabeth (Gross) Davenport, said 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. "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 have yet 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.
The statement provided by Chief Hedrick says Meadors has been placed on administrative leave, and that the investigation is ongoing and being led by the Kentucky State Police Post 11, and the Kentucky State Police Critical Incident Response Team. The investigation was assisted by the Corbin City Police Department, Whitley County EMS, and the Whitley County Coroner’s Office.
The statement also reads that the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office for Whitley County was consulted and the results of the investigation will be presented to the Whitley County Grand Jury.
Last Tuesday, Chief Hedrick announced the promotion of Meadors along with two other officers during a Corbin City Commission meeting.
When asked about the promotion, Hedrick told the Times-Tribune that the promotion was predetermined before the incident.
“The promotions were due in January, but unfortunately were not able to be presented until February,” Hedrick said.
The investigation is currently ongoing and being led by Post 11 investigative Sergeant Duane Foley.
Editor's note: Law enforcement agencies reported Davenport's age as 20, which was included in previous stories. Davenport was 19.