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Investigations clear KCI Airport Police in allegation of harassment of a man

KCI security video shows exchange between Michael McGill and Officer Sandy Thompson

Video from a security camera at KCI shows interaction between Michael McGill Jr. and airport police on April 29. McGill contends the officer was overly aggressive. Investigations cleared the officer. (Video courtesy of Kansas City Aviation Departm
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Video from a security camera at KCI shows interaction between Michael McGill Jr. and airport police on April 29. McGill contends the officer was overly aggressive. Investigations cleared the officer. (Video courtesy of Kansas City Aviation Departm

Investigations into the alleged harassment of a black man and his mother this spring by a Kansas City International Airport Police officer found the allegations were unsubstantiated.

That conclusion was reached by an internal Airport Police review after the Missouri Highway Patrol found there was “no readily discernible criminal act” by the officer.

Michael McGill Jr. filed a complaint after the encounter about 7:30 a.m. on April 29. He said he was being dropped off by his mother for a flight when Airport Police Officer Sandy Thompson ordered him against the outside wall of the terminal and threatened him by fingering his gun three times.

McGill said he and his mother, Shanna Levitson-Wilson, became fearful.

“I was in grave fear for my life,” McGill, an education consultant, posted later on Facebook.

Thompson told investigators he pulled the vehicle over because it blocking the middle lane and was missing a front license plate. He denied ordering McGill against the wall and denied grabbing his gun.

In an audio recording, McGill is heard asking to be allowed to get his luggage out of the vehicle because he has to catch an international flight to a conference. Thompson is heard saying McGill has been “extremely rude from the get-go.”

Levitson-Wilson is heard telling her son to “shut up and let the man talk.”

The encounter was captured by airport security cameras, but the initial interaction is seen from a distance. A closer camera was then trained on the situation.

The video shows Thompson speaking with McGill and his mother. A couple of times she moves to put her hand over her son’s mouth, apparently in an effort to stop him from talking. Thompson appears to touch the end of his gun to adjust his belt.

The encounter ends with McGill entering the Delta terminal with his luggage and his mother driving away.

McGill
Michael McGill Jr.

McGill said Airport Police Chief Stephen Newman told him that “no clear cameras were present” for the beginning of the encounter. McGill questioned that.

“Is the city not doing enough to keep passengers safe??” he asked on Facebook. “Where is the safety?? Proper cameras can keep both customers AND officers safe and promote accountability.”

The Airport Police is under the authority of the city Aviation Department. Department spokesman Joe McBride denied that there was a lack of cameras or security at the airport.

“There are cameras throughout, inside and outside the buildings, throughout the whole campus,” McBride said, explaining that Airport Police dispatchers are able to pan and zoom them as needed.

The initial encounter with McGill was captured on a camera far away. After a few minutes, a dispatcher switched to one much closer and zoomed in.

After McGill filed his complaint, Airport Police asked the Missouri Highway Patrol to investigate the incident.

After reviewing the case the patrol concluded that “there was no readily discernible criminal act committed by the involved KCI Airport police officer,” patrol Superintendent Col. Sandra K. Karsten informed Airport Police Chief Newman.

Airport Police then did their own internal investigation, which included interviewing McGill, his mother, officer Thompson and an airport employee who witnessed the encounter.

“He was speaking in a firm voice, but not yelling at the black male,” the investigation report said the witness told them.

“The KCI Airport Police Department’s Administration Bureau has investigated and determined that the allegations (by McGill) are unsubstantiated,” the report concluded. The Platte County prosecutor’s office also did not find any discernible criminal act.

McGill said Thursday he does not know what his options are now.

He said the beginning of the incident is not reflected in the report.

“I don’t agree with the findings,” he said. “They are not thorough, not complete. They don’t assess the situation in its entirety.”

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC

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