‘She’s trigger happy’: After deputy is charged, family wants new look at 2017 killing

The family of a man shot and killed by a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy in 2017 said Wednesday they are hoping for new action in their case after the deputy was charged in a more recent shooting.

The deputy, Lauren Michael, killed Donald Sneed III, who was suspected of shoplifting at a Raytown Walmart where Deputy Michael was working security. At the time, she said Sneed took her stun gun away from her and shocked her with it.

The deputy told a similar story this summer after she shot a woman in the back while trying to arrest a woman who had been riding a scooter at 37th and Main streets in Kansas City.

The woman survived, and on Wednesday Michael was charged by Jackson County prosecutors with first-degree assault and armed criminal action.

In charging documents, prosecutors cast doubt on Michael’s story that the victim, Brittany Simeck, used her stun gun against her.

After Michael was charged, Sneed’s father, Donald Sneed Jr., said he was upset that prosecutors did not charge Michael in his son’s case. He said Michael was allowed to get away it.

“Now we’ve got another lady shot and that cop doesn’t even belong on the force,” Sneed Jr. said. “She’s trigger happy and she’s gonna kill more.”

Donald Sneed
Family of Donald Sneed III wants Lauren Michael, the Jackson County Sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed him in 2017 charged with murder. Courtesy of Jermaine Wooten

Previous shooting

On May 28, 2017, Michael was working off-duty security at a Raytown Walmart when Sneed III was suspected of shoplifting and allegedly became violent when employees tried to stop him.

At the time, the sheriff’s office said Sneed III grabbed Michael’s stun gun prompting her to shoot him.

The father, Sneed Jr., said he doesn’t believe that. He said Michael shot his son multiple times and that his son wasn’t attacking her when she fired the shots, but rather was being held down.

Sneed III died from his injuries at the hospital. The sheriff’s office said he had been wanted on felony warrants for robbery and tampering with a motor vehicle.

His wife, Rachel Sneed, told The Star at the time that he was a good man who had recently struggled with substance abuse problems but was trying to get his life back on track.

Michael was given the medal of valor for her actions during the incident.

“That she was given a medal of valor was almost insulting to the family,” said the family’s attorney Jermaine Wooten.

Lauren Michael.jpg
Jackson County Deputy Lauren Michael was presented a medal of valor in 2018 by then-Sheriff Mike Sharp for her role during an altercation with shoplifting suspect.

The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Michael, the security company that contracted with her, and Walmart.

Sneed Jr. said he hoped the charges filed Wednesday could lead to his son’s case being reopened. He said he believed Michael said things that weren’t true after his son was shot to cover for herself.

“I don’t think she belongs on the force and she ought to be arrested,” said Sneed Jr.

Mike Mansur, spokesman for Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, prosecutors have reviewed the case, decided not to file charges, and do not plan to look at it again.

Jackson County Sheriff Daryl Forté declined to comment on the shooting Wednesday.

Michael has been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the criminal case, which is a standard practice when criminal charges are filed, Forté said in a Twitter post Wednesday.

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Katie Bernard covers Kansas crime, cops and courts for the Kansas City Star. She joined the Star in May of 2019. Katie studied journalism and political science at the University of Kansas.
Glenn E. Rice covers crime, courts and breaking news for The Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 1988. Rice is a Kansas City native and a graduate of the University of Central Missouri.