Former FBI Agent Russell Coleman: Kentucky’s Next Attorney General

Russell Coleman didn’t waste any time expressing his ambition to become Kentucky’s next top law enforcement officer.

In May 2022, Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s current attorney general, made the surprising announcement that he would not be seeking a second term in office. Instead, he declared his candidacy for the position of governor. Following this news, Coleman wasted no time in revealing his own intentions to run for the vacant position of attorney general.

18 months later, Coleman, aged 47, emerged victorious in his race and is set to assume office as Kentucky’s 52nd attorney general on January 1st.

Coleman’s extensive experience in the legal field and criminal justice system spans over two decades. Throughout his career, he has held various positions, including working at the Department of Justice and the FBI. Additionally, he served as legal counsel to Sen. Mitch McConnell and as a U.S. Attorney.

During his time as a second-grade student in Daviess County, Coleman developed a strong interest in law enforcement that has stayed with him ever since.

“I stumbled upon these worn-out black and white books that were quite different from the Berenstain Bears books I usually read,” he shared with the Herald-Leader. “They seemed to be filled with nothing but J. Edgar Hoover propaganda.”

“When I gazed upon those books filled with tales of Tommy guns and fedoras, fast cars and the sound of tracer rounds echoing on the last page, I felt an undeniable longing to become an FBI agent.”

Coleman expressed that as he grew older and wiser, he became more captivated by the noble purpose of law enforcement and the essential duty of safeguarding the community.

“I am deeply passionate about that mission. And you know what? It’s not all that different from what parents do,” he said with enthusiasm. “In law enforcement, the ultimate goal is to prevent harm and ensure the safety of others. Ever since that realization, my entire professional journey has been driven by the desire to become an FBI agent someday.”

After completing his studies at the University of Kentucky, Coleman gained valuable experience by working at the U.S. Department of Justice. During his three-year tenure, he had the opportunity to serve under distinguished attorneys general Janet Reno and John Ashcroft.

Coleman reflected on his time working with highly intelligent lawyers who argued cases before the Supreme Court and were top-tier graduates from Ivy League schools. However, he came to the realization that the individuals he connected with the most during his tenure at the Justice Department were the FBI special agents.

After completing his law degree in the UK, Coleman made his way back to his hometown. He then worked as a prosecutor in Garrard and Jessamine counties for a short period while patiently anticipating his call-up at Quantico.

Coleman fulfilled his dream of becoming an FBI agent and spent five years working in various locations such as Indiana, Washington, D.C., and Iraq.

One of the most fulfilling experiences I had during my time as an agent was when I served in Iraq alongside the special operations community and the U.S. military,” Coleman shared. “Our main focus was to investigate terrorism and prevent any potential acts of terrorism both in Iraq and back home. It was a collaborative effort between us and the military to work on cases and gather crucial information.”

“I absolutely adored my job as an agent,” she exclaimed with a hint of nostalgia in her voice.

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Coleman was left paralyzed due to a spinal cord condition known as transverse myelitis.

“I was just 32 years old and an avid runner on the National Mall when my life took a sudden turn. Within a matter of days, I went from being an active individual to a complete paraplegic,” he recalled. “It was a difficult adjustment for my family as well. We had to move homes, and with a young child in tow, I didn’t know how I would be able to fulfill my roles as a father and a husband. Furthermore, my future as an FBI agent seemed uncertain.”

Coleman and his family were relocated to Louisville by the FBI. This was due to the Frazier Rehabilitation Institute, which played a crucial role in helping him regain the ability to walk. Despite this progress, Coleman still lacks feeling in one of his legs.

Afterwards, Coleman spent five years serving as McConnell’s legal counsel before becoming a partner at the law firm Frost Brown Todd for a period of two years.

Coleman served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky throughout the Trump administration, starting after Donald Trump’s election and concluding in January 2021.

Coleman explained that despite his physical limitations, he was able to contribute to law enforcement in his own unique way. He emphasized that he could effectively lead and make a difference from a position of influence, whether it be behind a podium or at the head of a conference room table. Coleman highlighted that wearing a badge and carrying a gun was not necessary for him to have a meaningful impact in the field of law enforcement.

“I see this as my chance to return to the world of law enforcement.”

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