Crime

Swing and miss? KCPD says officer in Westport video made no contact, used OK tactic

KC police break up altercation between women in Westport

Two officers from the Kansas City Police Department broke up an altercation between women in Westport on Saturday night, September 9, 2018.
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Two officers from the Kansas City Police Department broke up an altercation between women in Westport on Saturday night, September 9, 2018.

An arm-swinging officer captured on video forcefully breaking up a Westport fight was using an approved method to break a woman’s grip and did not actually make contact with her, Kansas City police said Monday.

The statement came after video of the incident circulated widely and the Police Department said it further investigated the early Sunday morning melee.

A pair of videos, viewed more than 200,000 times by Monday morning, had set off a debate after the officer was seen swinging a strong downward blow near a woman who was being held by another officer.

The woman fell backwards onto the street — with many witnesses and viewers of the videos saying the officer had struck her.

But others examining the videos suggested the woman was gripping another woman, possibly by the hair, and that the officer appeared to be striking downward to break her grip.

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Investigators now say that, not only was the officer merely trying to break the woman’s grip, but she let go without the officer actually making contact, according to Kansas City police spokesman Capt. Lionel Colón.

“In an attempt to break the grip one female had on the other, one officer attempted a downward wrist strike,” Colón said in a written statement. “The female released her grip causing her to fall off the curb. At no time did the officer actually make contact with her.”

Officers are trained in the technique the officer used, Colón said. No injuries were reported. No criminal complaints were filed and “the mutually fighting women . . . went their separate ways,” he said.

Several women were fighting when police and witnesses moved in to break the fight up after midnight Sunday. At least three women are seen on the video being held either by officers or citizens.

The officer who made the downward strike had been holding one of the three women, but let her go to step toward where the other two women were entangled.

Hundreds of thousands of people have viewed the videos capturing the scene, with some 800 comments that include a wide range of interpretations of the force the officer used.

The Police Department’s command staff interviewed the officers involved and examined witness accounts in finding that the officer’s actions were appropriate and that no one was struck, Colón said.

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