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Charges against KC police officer in nonfatal shooting are dismissed

A grand jury had indicted police officer Jacob Ramsey for assault in the shooting of Anthony E. Contreras. But Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker dropped the charges, saying her office could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer’s action was not justified.
A grand jury had indicted police officer Jacob Ramsey for assault in the shooting of Anthony E. Contreras. But Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker dropped the charges, saying her office could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer’s action was not justified.

Charges were dismissed Friday against a Kansas City police officer who had been indicted for assault in a nonfatal shooting last June.

A Jackson County grand jury in February indicted Jacob Ramsey for shooting Anthony E. Contreras, who was a suspect in a series of thefts. Ramsey shot Contreras in the face as Contreras was exiting a house in the 6800 block of East 15th Terrace. Ramsey said he thought Contreras was reaching for a gun.

Police on Friday evening released a finding from Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, addressed to Police Chief Darryl Forté, saying her office had decided not to pursue the charges in the indictment because it would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer’s action was not justified under Missouri law.

Baker’s office also released a statement.

“In February, the grand jury determined probable cause existed to indict the … officer on assault and armed criminal action charges,” it said. “But a subsequent investigation and legal analysis has demonstrated that the evidence no longer supports the further pursuit of those criminal charges.

“Like all prosecutors, we have a duty to be convinced that evidence supports a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Our subsequent investigation convinced us that burden could not be met.”

In a statement from the Police Department, Forté said, “We respect the judicial process, and we are pleased that process ended in the right outcome in this situation.”

Attorney John P. O’Connor, who represented Ramsey, said his client “is extremely happy and grateful that these charges have been dismissed, and he is anxious to get back to his duties as a Kansas City, Mo., police officer.”

Ramsey, 31, is a five-year veteran of the police force assigned to the tactical enforcement unit.

Police had a warrant for Contreras’ arrest and were looking for him on June 24, 2014, when an officer saw him on a porch at the address on East 15th Terrace. Contreras went inside the house. Ramsey and another officer were at the rear of the house when Contreras began coming out the back door.

According to a summary of facts in Baker’s finding, police knew that Contreras, 37, was “known to flee and was considered dangerous.” The summary also said “Contreras’ right hand dipped to his side, and Ramsey stated he believed Contreras was reaching for a gun.”

Ramsey fired his service weapon once, striking Contreras on the left side of the face and causing serious injury to his jaw, teeth and tongue.

Contreras did not have a gun, but he did have a screwdriver in his pocket.

While a grand jury indictment is a finding of probable cause, a conviction by a trial jury would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Ramsey acted without justification.

In her finding, Baker said Contreras made untrue statements to the grand jury and would not be a credible witness at trial.

Baker also said her office had received information that Contreras, prior to the shooting, had made statements that he would rather shoot it out with police and get shot than return to jail.

And finally, Baker said, testimony from expert witnesses the defense was prepared to produce would support that Ramsey acted reasonably and justifiably.

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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