Nearly three months after a fatal beating outside Arrowhead Stadium, Jackson County authorities have charged a 25-year-old Independence man with involuntary manslaughter in the case.
Joshua T. Bradley made his first court appearance late Friday morning. He told a judge he plans to hire an attorney.
According to prosecutors, an autopsy showed that Kyle Van Winkle, 30, died from a blow to his head sustained during the Dec. 1 altercation — described by prosecutors as “very brief” — while the Kansas City Chiefs were playing the Denver Broncos. Van Winkle sustained blunt force trauma to his head and neck.
“This is such a personal tragedy for this family,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said during a news conference Friday. She did not provide details on what led to the altercation and would not say whether Bradley had tickets to the game.
Because Bradley left the stadium parking lot before police arrived, authorities were not able to get his blood tested to determine his blood alcohol level, Baker said.
Van Winkle’s father, Dean Van Winkle, thanked authorities for their work. He paused momentarily while speaking on behalf of the family.
“Kyle was a hardworking, honest young man,” he said. “He sincerely loved people and cared about people, especially his family, especially his wife, Jenni, and his new baby son, Will. I firmly believe that he still truly does that today only from heaven.”
Kyle Van Winkle had gone to the game with his father, other relatives and friends. During the first quarter, the Smithville resident told his father he was going to the restroom but never returned to his seat.
Instead, he walked into the parking lot for unknown reasons and got into an apparently unlocked green Jeep that was similar to a vehicle in his tailgating convoy. The Jeep was parked in the same row where his group had parked but about 10 vehicles closer to the stadium.
A relative of Bradley declined to comment about the criminal charges but expressed condolences to the Van Winkle family.
According to court records:
The Jeep’s owner and young son returned to the vehicle and found Van Winkle either passed out or sleeping inside. The owner attempted to wake Van Winkle, whom he believed to be intoxicated, and sent his son for help. Several people soon arrived at the Jeep.
An argument ensued between Van Winkle and one of the bystanders.
“That bigger feller (suspect), he walked away and something was said and he turned around and he just started hitting him (victim),” court records quote the Jeep’s owner as telling police.
After Van Winkle fell to the ground, the attacker continued hitting him, the records said.
According to police reports, the attacker left Van Winkle on the pavement. Another bystander propped him up against a bus. After they noticed Van Winkle had turned blue, bystanders flagged down a security guard and started CPR.
According to court records, witnesses identified the attacker as Bradley. When investigators attempted to question him the day after Van Winkle died, Bradley requested an attorney, court records said.
Prosecutors delayed filing charges until receiving results from tests done during an autopsy.
Van Winkle, who worked at Community America Credit Union, left a wife and a baby born seven weeks before he died.