Officers use rifles Thursday to puncture tanks containing anhydrous ammonia that were found in William Hensley’s SUV.

William M. Hensley, who is accused of trying to kill Laurel County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Smallwood, will return to Laurel District Court today for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is sufficient cause to present the case to a Laurel County Grand Jury.

Hensley, 55, of London, is accused of throwing a leaking tank of anhydrous ammonia near Smallwood’s cruiser Thursday.

The tank exploded and Smallwood reportedly inhaled some of the fumes and began experiencing breathing difficulty.

Hensley was arraigned Friday in Laurel District Court, pleading not guilty to attempted murder of a police officer and knowingly possessing anhydrous ammonia with intent to manufacture methamphetamine. District Court Judge John Chappell set Hensley’s bond at $75,000 cash.

Hensley was arrested Thursday afternoon after Sheriff Fred Yaden and some of his deputies, officers from the UNITE Meth Team, Laurel County Hazmat, Ambulance Inc. of Laurel County and the Laurel County Fire Department responded to a single-vehicle wreck at intersection of KY 472 and Old Way Road in which four tanks containing anhydrous ammonia were located and disposed of.

Deputy Rob Grimes was the first to arrive on the scene, finding Hensley walking away from his Chevrolet Blazer that had gone over an embankment.

Grimes reportedly saw Hensley carrying a propane tank and then tossing the tank into a ditch near the road.

After assuring the Hensley was all right, Grimes requested backup and Smallwood was dispatched to the scene.

When Smallwood arrived on the scene, he stopped his cruiser near the tank, which exploded, sending a cloud of anhydrous ammonia into the air.

Smallwood was taken to Saint Joseph-London for treatment, after which he was released. Yaden said Smallwood was back on the duty Friday morning.

Officials removed the tanks, which were leaking, from the vehicle. Officers used rifle fire to puncture the tanks while the fire department sprayed the fumes with water to dissipate the cloud.

Hensley underwent decontamination procedures after which he was also taken to Saint Joseph London. After his release from the hospital, he was lodged in the Laurel County Detention Center.

Staff writer Dean Manning may be reached at

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