Crime

A Lawrence police officer meant to use a Taser. She shot a man by mistake

Dash cam video shows May 29 Lawrence police shooting

Police dash cam video shows a Lawrence officer shoot a man during a May 29 traffic stop. The officer, Brindley Blood, told investigators she meant to reach for her stun gun.
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Police dash cam video shows a Lawrence officer shoot a man during a May 29 traffic stop. The officer, Brindley Blood, told investigators she meant to reach for her stun gun.

Lawrence police Officer Brindley Blood thought she had her Taser in her hand as she watched an unarmed man beating a fellow officer last May.

What she fired, however, was her gun — by mistake.

“Oh s---, I shot him,” Blood shouted, according to court records released Thursday.

Blood was charged a month ago in Douglas County with reckless aggravated battery, but the newly released documents reveal details of the frantic moments when a May 29 traffic stop for a seat belt violation turned violent in the 100 block of West Sixth Street in Lawrence.

Akira Shaunell Lewis, who is charged with battery of a police officer, refused to cooperate when he was pulled over by Lawrence police Officer Ian McCann, according to police. Lewis was angry and said the traffic stop was racially motivated.

McCann spent several minutes trying to convince Lewis to provide his driver’s license and proof of insurance.

The officer called for help and Blood arrived. McCann tried to force Lewis out of the vehicle, with Blood helping from the passenger side door.

They struggled for about a minute and Lewis said “I’m gonna knock you in your motherf-----,” according to court records.

Lewis then knocked McCann to the ground and was on top of him, having hit him with his fist, when Blood came around the other side of the sport-utility vehicle.

Blood braced herself to use her Taser on Lewis.

“Officer Blood explained her brain immediately went ‘you need to tase this guy, you got to tase, you got to tase him,” an investigating officer wrote in court records.

Blood shouted, “Taser! Taser! Taser!”

She fired what was in her hand, and Lewis shouted in pain — which would have been normal when hit with a Taser. But Blood said she was stunned that she didn’t see the wires of a Taser gun strike.

“At this point,” the investigator’s statement said, Blood realized she had pulled her gun and shot Lewis by mistake, instead of pulling her Taser.

Blood exclaimed aloud, “Oh s---, I shot him.”

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Kansas City Star file photo

Blood holstered the weapon and helped McCann handcuff Lewis. They began first aid efforts on Lewis, who was shot in his lower back.

Lewis, in addition to battery of a police officer, is charged with causing physical contact in a rude, insulting or angry manner; and obstructing or resisting the orders of a law enforcement officer.

Law enforcement agencies take precautions to try to guard against drawing the wrong weapon, but officers have mistakenly fired guns instead of Tasers before — some tragically.

A Georgia man was wounded by mistake by a Baldwin County deputy in October 2017. A Tulsa County reserve deputy in Oklahoma mistakenly shot and killed a fleeing suspect in an undercover operation in April 2015.

A Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer claimed he thought he had his stun gun in his hand rather than his firearm in the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant, a shooting that was portrayed in the movie “Fruitvale Station.”

Police typically are trained to keep their firearm on their dominant-hand side, and their Taser on the other side. Tasers generally are brightly colored to help distinguish them from firearms.

In the court documents, Blood described how she had her duty belt arranged. Clockwise from the belt buckle, she had a handcuff case, pepper spray, her firearm, baton, rubber glove case, radio, two-magazine ammo holder and — on the other side of her firearm — her Taser.

The Taser was a yellow, X2 model. The firearm was a Sig Sauer P320 9MM. She is right-handed, and the firearm was on her right side.

She told the investigator that “(I) honestly can’t even give you an answer as to how I ended up with my firearm in my hand. It was muscle memory. I don’t know. It wasn’t until after I pulled my trigger that I realized it wasn’t my Taser.”

Lewis is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 26.

Blood is scheduled to appear Sept. 27.

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