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Jury finds shooting justified

BY ANDREA MOORE amoore@paducahsun.com

A Caldwell County grand jury has decided that Princeton Police Chief Don Weedman was justified in fatally shooting James E. Hamm, who was in the process of robbing Planters Bank in Princeton. 

According to Caldwell County Commonwealth Attorney G.L. Ovey, the grand jury met Friday and unanimously held that Weedman was justified in the July 11 shooting of Hamm, 67, of Princeton.   

Ovey said that he had received a report from the Kentucky State Police before presenting it to the grand jury and that he had already believed Weedman was justified before giving it to the grand jurors.

"There is no doubt in my mind that his actions were justified under the circumstances. He was left with no other choice," Ovey said.  

Ovey said that the grand jury considered the state police investigation, heard from five witnesses at the scene including two of the bank tellers and also considered Ovey's recommendation that the shooting was justified.  

According to a report issued by the grand jury, on the day of the attempted robbery Planter's Bank had opened 10 minutes late because two bank employees were being interviewed about a robbery at the bank that occurred two days prior. 

The report stated that Weedman had walked both bank employees back to the bank from the police department after they were interviewed and had taken a seat in the reception area.  At that time, according to the report, Weedman heard a noise from the back entrance of the bank and saw someone enter wearing a dark cap.  

Ovey said that Weedman did not know the identity of the suspect at that time and saw that he had a handgun and was wearing a mask.  When Hamm pointed the weapon at the tellers, Weedman told him two times to drop the weapon, Ovey said.  Hamm fired at Weedman, and Weedman returned fire, striking Hamm twice.

The grand jury stated in its report that Weedman acted properly under the circumstances and is to be highly commended for doing his job in a professional manner. 

They added that the community was fortunate to have Weedman in the bank because without his prompt action innocent lives could have been lost.  

According to Ovey, Hamm had taken $107,000 from the same bank two days prior, and $90,000 was found at his home with  serial numbers corresponding to the stolen cash.  

Weedman placed himself on a 10-day administrative leave after the shooting and has been back at work since that time.

Contact Andrea Moore, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8684.

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