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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Kentucky

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 13, 2020

Federal Task Force Formed In Response To Significant Increase In Louisville Carjackings

U.S. Attorney’s Office will pursue carjacking defendants in federal court in support of effort to reduce dangerous trend in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – As carjacking skyrockets in Louisville, the FBI, joined by the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms, Homeland Security Investigations, Jefferson Co. Sheriff’s Office and the Kentucky State Police have set up a new task force in an effort to take more cases federal – where penalties range up to more than a decade in a federal penitentiary and parole does not exist. This new effort will be in close consultation with the Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.  

Carjacking is a federal crime punishable by imprisonment of up to 15 years and a fine of $250,000. However, if a victim of a carjacking suffers serious bodily injury, the maximum term of imprisonment is up to 25 years.  And, if the carjacking victim is killed as a result of the carjacking, a defendant may be imprisoned for any number of years up to life, or sentenced to death. Additionally, if the defendant brandishes a firearm, a consecutive mandatory minimum sentence of seven years is added. If a firearm is discharged, a consecutive mandatory minimum sentence of ten years is added to the sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Put Louisville families at risk though carjacking then be prepared to go to federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. “We will respond to this increasing threat to neighborhoods across our city and pledge closer collaboration with our state & local partners to reverse the disturbing trend.”

The FBI Louisville Field Office and law enforcement partners are offering incentives in the form of federal overtime, vehicles and training for Jefferson County law enforcement agencies who are participating in the task force.

"Helping to foster safe communities continues to be a primary focus of FBI Louisville,” said FBI Louisville Division SAC Robert Brown. “As preventing violent crime is a bedrock of the FBI, we look forward to working with and leading a new violent crime task force comprised of FBI, ATF, LMPD, KSP, HSI, and JCSO."

“We have seen a disturbing number of carjackings over the past few weeks,” said LMPD Interim Chief Rob Schroeder. “We are grateful for this collaboration with our federal partners, who always step up for this city when we see spikes in crime or alarming trends in violence.”

“Carjackings are violent crimes that harm our communities and threaten the public’s safety,” stated R. Shawn Morrow, ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Louisville Division. “ATF Special Agents will work closely with our law enforcement partners in order to stop this trend and find those responsible. The combined efforts of our law enforcement partners with the U.S. Attorney’s Office will go a long way in quickly shutting down these violent robberies.”

“The reduction and prevention of violent crime is important regardless where it takes place in our state,” said KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer. “The Kentucky State Police is committed to providing whatever resources we have available to combat carjacking and other crimes in and around the Louisville Metro region.”

There has already been one such carjacking case taken federal in Louisville. Damion Lemont Hayes, 20, of Louisville, Kentucky, has been charged with carjacking. Hayes was on a felony diversion at the time of the carjacking as a result of a February 2020 conviction for charges that were initially filed as complicity to murder and complicity to robbery.

According to a criminal complaint, on June 2, 2020, the victim was driving a black 2017 Subaru Forester with a friend down Bardstown Road. The two victims ran into protestors and police activity on Bardstown – they parked to see what was going on. As the victims were walking they were asked for a ride by two females and five males. They all walked back to the victims’ Subaru, however, only three of the males got in the car.

The victim continued to drive down Bardstown, but was caught in traffic. According to the victim, she was uncomfortable with the men in the car, and told them she needed to get gas. She was directed by one of the men to BP, where one of the men put $20 worth of gas in the Subaru. The driver was then directed to drive to three different houses.

The victim reported she wanted the men out of the car, and as she turned to tell them she needed to get home one of the men in the rear passenger side of the car pointed a gun at her. At that point both victims were forced out of the car. The men attempted to take their cell phones, according to the complaint. A minor struggle ensued and one of the men was sprayed with mace by the owner of the car.

The federal carjacking charge carries a penalty of no more than 15 years, a maximum fine of $250,000 and no more than three years of supervised release.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations, the Louisville Metro Police Department, the Kentucky State Police, the Jefferson Co. Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office comprise the task force with additional local departments expected to participate as well.

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Updated August 13, 2020