Suspect in fatal Clinton police shooting had long criminal history, records show

Three police officers shot, one fatally: Here's what we know

Three Clinton, Mo., police officers were shot, one fatally, Tuesday night. Dispatch audio from
Up Next
Three Clinton, Mo., police officers were shot, one fatally, Tuesday night. Dispatch audio from

James E. Waters, the man identified as a suspect in the shooting of three Clinton, Mo., police officers Tuesday night, was a convicted felon and was out on bond after a November arrest in Cass County, records show.

Officer Christopher Ryan Morton, 30, was fatally shot when he answered a 911 call to 306 W. Grandriver. The other two officers were wounded.

Waters also died.

Records show Waters, 37, had a criminal history dating back to 1999 and was recently facing charges in Cass County stemming from an arrest in November in which police found him with meth and pot.

In that incident, he was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance.

James E. Waters mugshot
James Earl Waters Cass County Sheriff's Office

According to a probable cause statement filed in Cass County Circuit Court, Harrisonville officers were called to the scene of a one-vehicle crash on Interstate 49 last Nov. 12.

Officers found a wrecked silver Buick that was unoccupied. Inside the car, officers found a wallet with several forms of identification, including a Missouri driver's license belonging to Waters, court records said.

Later that night, officers were called to the area of Delmar Street and Hillside Drive in Harrisonville in regard to a person sleeping by the roadway.

It was Waters, according to the court records.

Police said Waters didn't respond when an officer asked if he was OK and saw a small amount of bubbles coming from his mouth. An officer requested an ambulance to evaluate him.

Police said Waters had a silver pocket knife in his front pocket and a handgun inside his front waistband.

The gun was a Cobra .380-caliber handgun loaded with eight rounds of ammunition. Court records said the gun was reported stolen in St. Joseph.

Police say while they were moving the gun and knife to a patrol car, Waters sat up and was responsive. Court records say an officer asked Waters again if he was OK. He said he was fine, and he was then arrested.

In an interview with police, Waters said he was in a car accident on Interstate 49. He said he left the scene of the crash because his phone was "busted" and that he had waited but it was "too cold."

Aside from a gun, police also said they found white container with an off-white crystal-like substance inside as well as several clear plastic baggies — two of which had residue.

Police said Waters nodded his head and said "Yeah" when asked if he was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Waters allegedly told police he had been using "meth" and was high during the incident.

Waters was taken to the Cass County jail, where a deputy located on Waters another small, clear bag with a crystal-like substance as well as two small, clear bags of a green plant-like substance and three marijuana joints.

The off-white crystal substance found with Waters field-tested positive for methamphetamine, and the green plant-like substance field-tested positive for marijuana, court records said.

Waters posted bond and was released from custody several days later.

Court and prison records show that Waters was first sentenced to prison in 1999 after he was convicted of second-degree robbery in Jackson County.

He subsequently had convictions for drug distribution in 2004 in Jackson County and 2008 in Buchanan County.

Federal court records show that he was sentenced in 2004 to nearly four years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

And in 2014, again in Buchanan County, he was sentenced to three years in prison for resisting arrest.

He was released from prison last July, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Three Clinton, Mo., police officers were shot, one fatally, Tuesday night. Dispatch audio from

Related stories from Kansas City Star