Kansas City police officers have shot eight people in 2016, killing two of them. Both men killed had a firearm.
The number of shootings is nearly as many as the average number in each of the 11 previous years. But the fatality rate — the two men killed — was half the annual average.
From 2005 to 2015, Kansas City police killed 47 people, an average of about four a year, a Kansas City Star analysis last year found. In all over that decade, the department’s officers shot at least 103 people, an average of about nine a year.
The Star’s examination, using police statistics and a database maintained by the newspaper of roughly the same time period, found that Kansas City’s officer-involved fatal shootings were the third-highest per capita of a dozen peer cities sampled.
Police in Kansas City’s suburbs also have used deadly force in 2016. Officers in Olathe, Lee’s Summit, Gladstone and Independence each shot and killed one person. The shooting by Independence police occurred inside the Kansas City limits.
As for the deaths in Kansas City, “I don’t want to say it’s good that they killed two people” in 2016, said Lora McDonald, executive director of More2, the Metropolitan Organization for Racial and Economic Equity. “I wouldn’t say it’s progress. Two people died.”
McDonald noted the homicide rate soared this year, and police have a lot to focus on.
“Our work will continue,” she said. “I still think it’s time for the community to play a stronger role in monitoring and involvement in the (police) department.”
In Kansas City, there is no provision for an independent review of officer-involved shootings that is not conducted by the law enforcement or justice communities.
Prosecutors did not file any charges and grand juries did not indict any of the 79 officers involved in the 47 Kansas City police fatal shootings from 2005 to 2015.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker’s policy since early 2015 has been to form a committee of specialized prosecutors, which she leads, to review the evidence and legal issues each time an officer injures or kills a person.
The committee’s findings — a letter addressed to the police chief of the agency involved — are then posted on the prosecutor’s website.
There have been no postings yet of the committee’s findings on the two fatal Kansas City police officer-involved shootings in 2016.
On June 8, Kansas City police shot an armed man to death after a morning standoff that lasted more than four hours at 3545 Bellfontaine Ave. At one point, 43-year-old Carlos Garcia reportedly fired several shots at officers with a rifle. About 20 minutes later, he ran out a back door, aiming a rifle at officers, police said. The officers, “fearing for their safety,” fired several shots, a police spokesman said. Garcia died at the scene.
On Nov. 30, Kansas City police shot and killed a robbery suspect who police said was reaching for a gun during his arrest at Eighth Street and Van Brunt Boulevard. Patrol and narcotics officers pulled over a car as part of a planned arrest. David K. Crosby-Dowdy, 25, was a suspect in several robberies and had reportedly told police that morning that he was armed and ready for a shootout. Police said officers shot Crosby-Dowdy when he reached for a gun as they tried to remove him from the car. He died at a hospital.
Kansas City police were working with neighboring departments on two other occasions in 2016 when an officer from the other jurisdiction fatally shot a suspect.
On Feb. 4, Independence police were pursuing a possible stolen vehicle when the chase crossed into Kansas City. Stop sticks disabled the vehicle, and the driver, 47-year-old Scott Harless, fled near 99th Street and Blue Ridge Boulevard. As an Independence officer chased him on foot, Harless reportedly turned toward him with a gun. The officer shot him, and Harless died at the scene. Baker’s review committee concluded in late July that the shooting was justifiable under Missouri law.
On Nov. 21, Kansas City police were called to assist Gladstone police when a Gladstone officer was shot in the hand during a traffic stop at Vivion Road and U.S. 169. Police said 18-year-old Jacob C. Stevens of Kansas City, a passenger in the car, bolted and produced a handgun while scuffling with officers. A Gladstone officer shot Stevens, who died at the scene. That case has not been submitted to the Clay County prosecutor’s office.
Kansas City police were not present on March 27 when a Lee’s Summit police officer shot and killed a man during a disturbance at 227 N.W. Hickory St. Jeffrey K. Lanahan, 34, was shot once in the chest when police said he lunged at an officer with a large knife. Baker’s review committee concluded in May that Lanahan had acute mental health issues and had expressed a desire to be killed by police.
He refused to obey commands and reportedly thanked the officer who shot him. The committee determined the shooting was justified as self defense and the defense of others.
In Johnson County, a multijurisdictional team investigates fatal officer-involved shootings, including a Nov. 27 case involving a man with a blunt object outside Wal-Mart near Santa Fe Street and Kansas 7 in Olathe. Police said 50-year-old Walter Echols of Cypress, Texas, was confrontational and refused orders to drop the weapon. At least one officer was struck with the object and was treated at a hospital. Police shot and killed Echols. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced in December that the officers’ actions were justified under Kansas law and no criminal action would be taken.
There were no fatal police shootings in Kansas City, Kan., in 2016, but two members of the police force there were shot and killed in the line of duty. On May 9, Detective Brad Lancaster was shot multiple times near the Kansas Speedway after responding to a report of a suspicious person. On July 19, police Capt. Robert D. Melton was shot while trying to stop a person suspected of involvement in a drive-by shooting.
A Johnson County Sheriff’s deputy was killed by a suspected drunk driver on Sept. 11. Master Deputy Brandon Collins was conducting a traffic stop when a pickup truck slammed into the rear of his patrol car.