The mother of a 24-year-old man fatally shot by Kansas City police three years ago has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the governing board of the Police Department.
Narene Stokes-James has long said that the shooting of her son, Ryan Stokes, was not justified.
Stokes-James filed the lawsuit in federal court Thursday, three years to the day after Stokes was shot by a police officer at the conclusion of a foot chase near the Power & Light District about 3 a.m.
The suit also includes Stokes’ 4-year-old daughter as a plaintiff. Named as defendants are the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners and the police officer who shot Stokes, William Thompson.
At the time Stokes died, he was unarmed. Thompson said he thought he saw a gun in Stokes’ hand when the two crossed paths in a parking lot near 12th and McGee streets. After the shooting, police found a gun in a car next to Stokes’ body.
The shooting was one of 47 fatal police shootings in Kansas City from 2005 through 2015 examined by The Star.
Police have said the shooting was deemed reasonable because Stokes was fleeing from police officers and Thompson believed he saw a gun in Stokes’ hand. Witnesses told police they saw Stokes toss away a gun moments before the shooting. Investigators concluded that Stokes put the gun in the car just before he was shot.
Members of the police board could not immediately be reached Thursday for comment.
Officers had pursued Stokes and another man after two men at Power & Light reported a cellphone stolen.
The suit accuses the board of police of “consistently and systematically failing” to genuinely question shootings and criticize officers’ use of deadly force.
In the Stokes’ case, police commanders gave Thompson a commendation. A grand jury declined to indict him, and a police shooting panel that reviewed the incident made no recommendations for training or department policy changes.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.