Identities released in death investigation in Owensboro

Local News

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – An Eyewitness News update now on the investigation of a man taking his own life Sunday morning, where an officer also fired shots.

Kentucky State Police identify the man who died as Ray S, Payne, 39, Evansville.

The Owensboro Police Officer is identified as Michael Matthews, an 11-year veteran of the department.

While Kentucky State Police say the autopsy was expected to be happening today in Louisville, investigators back in Owensboro are continuing to review the evidence of yesterday’s incident, and neighbors continue to process what happened here as well.

“I think, just in shock because it literally happened right here, 30 feet from where I was sitting,” said Chris Lee, who heard gun shots as he was sitting on his couch Sunday morning.

“I distinctly remember hearing, ‘Drop the weapon’, and then I heard shots fired. That’s when I got up and realized something else was happening entirely,” he recalled.

Kentucky State Police say video from a police cruiser’s dash cam shows Payne taking his own life then Officer Matthews firing shots while seated in his cruiser. It started after a traffic stop. When police found there were active warrants out in Kentucky and Indiana for him, Payne fled, and later walked towards Walnut Street.

“It is very evident with the investigators that the suspect shoots himself first and then the officers, moments later, shoots from the vehicle,” said Trooper Corey King of the Kentucky State Police.

No official word yet if the shots from Ofc. Matthews hit Payne. Officers are trained to fire while seated in a cruiser or elsewhere.

“Of course, there’s no way you can prepare yourself for all the variables out there, but one of those is being able to successfully draw your weapon and return fire from a seated position,” said Trooper King.

While Owensboro Police were unable to comment on the investigation, they were able to tell us the officer is on paid administrative leave as part of department policy.

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(This story was originally published on September 21, 2020) 

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