Federal lawsuit alleges Kansas City police used excessive force in fatal shooting

Todd Weber was shot and killed by Kansas City police on Jan. 15, 2013, after a brief shootout on Interstate 435 near Front Street.
Todd Weber was shot and killed by Kansas City police on Jan. 15, 2013, after a brief shootout on Interstate 435 near Front Street.

In a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, the father of a 38-year-old man fatally shot by Kansas City police during a brief shootout along Interstate 435 said officers used excessive and unnecessary force in his son’s death.

Police killed Todd S. Weber of Independence on Jan. 15, 2013, after a 90-minute slow-speed chase that started in Independence. The pursuit eventually reached I-435 near Front Street, where Weber stopped and got out of the truck holding a gun pointed at his head.

The wrongful-death lawsuit names Police Chief Darryl Forté and officers Michael A. Lenoir, Justin D. Pinkerton, Jason M. Quint and Scott A. Selock as defendants. The officers fired dozens of shots at Weber, according to the lawsuit filed by his father, Lewis Weber.

In response to the lawsuit, Kansas City Police Capt. Tye Grant issued a statement saying the officers had feared for their lives.

“Unfortunately, lawsuits sometimes arise in law enforcement. … No police officer ever wants to take a life, but — as in this incident — officers are sometimes forced to do so to protect themselves and others,” the statement said.

According to police, the pursuit began after an Independence officer spotted Todd Weber behind a restaurant at 11330 E. U.S. 24. The vehicle did not have its lights on, and the trailer did not have a license plate. Because of previous area break-ins, the officer grew suspicious, police said at the time.

The officer ran the truck’s Kansas tag and found an outstanding warrant associated with the vehicle. He tried to pull over the truck, but Weber refused to stop. The vehicle continued west on 20th Street from Sterling Avenue, traveling about 20 mph.

Independence police used a device to flatten the truck’s tires, yet the truck kept going. At times, it was traveling only 5 mph. After Weber stopped on I-435, police shut down traffic along the interstate.

Kansas City police, who had been following the truck in an armored personnel carrier, fired a large rubber bullet at Weber to try to disable him without seriously injuring him, but it didn’t work.

Weber got back into his truck and eventually pointed his gun at the officers and fired at least one round. A bullet grazed an officer’s upper torso, tearing his clothing. Four other tactical officers fired at the gunman, killing him.

In his lawsuit, Lewis Weber said his son posed no threat to officers or anyone else when he put a gun to his own head. Weber also said there were more than 40 police officers at the scene where the pursuit ended.

Lenoir, Pinkerton and Quint fired nearly 40 bullets and struck Todd Weber at least 23 times, according to the lawsuit.

Lewis Weber is seeking unspecified punitive and actual damages.

Glenn E. Rice: 816-234-4341, @GRicekcstar