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Mom of man killed by KC police: ‘There are two (conflicting) stories’

Ryan Stokes’ family wants answers about his fatal shooting by KC police

A prayer vigil and press conference for Ryan Stokes was held on Wednesday at the corner of 12th and McGee streets in downtown Kansas City where Stokes was fatally shot by police in 2013. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kans
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A prayer vigil and press conference for Ryan Stokes was held on Wednesday at the corner of 12th and McGee streets in downtown Kansas City where Stokes was fatally shot by police in 2013. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kans

Narene Stokes-James wants a clearer, more concise explanation of what happened to her son, Ryan Stokes.

Stokes was 24 when he was shot and killed by a Kansas City police officer in the early morning hours of July 28, 2013, at the conclusion of a foot chase near the Power & Light District.

On Wednesday, Stokes-James was joined by a coalition of local clergy and social activists calling for the federal government to investigate whether federal crimes or civil rights violations were committed in Stokes’ death.

At the heart of the issue, Stokes-James said, are conflicting documents she was recently made aware of.

The Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners gave Officer William Thompson and his partner that night a commendation after the shooting, stating that Thompson “struck (Stokes) with a fatal shot, ending the threat to all officers involved.”

A copy of the certificate of commendation also states that Stokes was armed with a gun and pointed it at pursuing officers.

However, investigators concluded that Stokes had put the gun in a car just before he was shot.

Stokes-James said her son was unarmed and the commendation report contrasts with the purported facts.

“They still want to stick to ‘he had a gun and wouldn’t put it down, so we had to shoot him,’ ” she said. “So there are two (conflicting) stories there.”

Vernon Percy Howard Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City and senior pastor at St. Mark Union Church in Kansas City, said federal intervention is paramount to determine the truth.

Silence, Howard said, is not an option.

“We are determined that Kansas City will not be a city where young, unarmed black men can be killed unjustifiably and nobody says a word about it and nobody is brought to justice,” he said.

Police deemed the shooting reasonable because Stokes was fleeing from police officers and Thompson believed he saw a gun in Stokes’ hand.

A grand jury declined to indict Thompson in the case.

Stokes-James filed a wrongful death lawsuit in July in federal court seeking unspecified damages. She has long said that the shooting of her son was not justified.

The suit includes Stokes’ 4-year-old daughter, Neriah, as a plaintiff.

Toriano Porter: 816-234-4779, @torianoporter

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