Crime

Video shows deputy shoot, kill man suspected of shoplifting from Walmart in 2017

Surveillance video made public Thursday shows a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy repeatedly shoot a man as he lay in a Walmart parking lot in 2017.

The video was obtained by The Star Thursday, soon after the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced it will revisit the fatal shooting of Donald Sneed III, whose family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Sneed’s family had called for the case to be reopened after the deputy, Lauren Michael, was charged Wednesday in a separate, more recent shooting in which she made similar claims about a suspect taker her stun gun from her.

Michael was charged Wednesday with first-degree assault and armed criminal action for the shooting this summer of a woman Michael shot in the back multiple times as she fled an arrest after riding a scooter the wrong way in Midtown Kansas City.

The decision Thursday to look again at Sneed’s death reversed the statement given by Baker’s office the day before, when a spokesman said prosecutors had already reviewed it and decided not to file criminal charges.

“Because there are similarities to the 2017 shooting, we thought it would be best to look at it again,” said Michael Mansur, a spokesman for Baker.

Jermain Wooten, Sneed’s family’s attorney, said in a statement to The Star that he was releasing the video “for full transparency of its investigation.”

Wooten is representing the family in a wrongful death lawsuit against Michael, the security company that contracted her and Walmart.

The video

Walmart security footage from May 28, 2017, provided by Wooten, shows Sneed running out of the store at 10300 E. U.S. 350 in Raytown before being tackled by a man.

The men fight, and a woman eventually steps in to help, as Michael appears to use her stun gun against Sneed multiple times.

After an altercation between the four, the man and woman appear to have Sneed pinned to the ground when Michael pulls her gun and begins shooting.

After the shooting, police said Sneed had used Michael’s stun gun against her, prompting her to fire. Then-sheriff Mike Sharp awarded her a medal of valor for her actions.

It is unclear from the video whether Michael is shocked by the taser. Wooten, the Sneed family lawyer, says she wasn’t.

“Mr. Sneed did not tase her, he did get control of her taser to stop her from tasing him,” Wooten said. “The taser was never discharged when it got into Mr. Sneed’s hands.”

Similar stories

Wooten said Michael told identical stories when she shot Sneed and when she shot Brittany Simeck in August.

“He was only trying to get up and get away like the other young lady was trying to get up and ultimately did not get away,” Wooten said.

In charging documents from the more recent shooting in August, prosecutors questioned Michael’s claim that Simeck used her stun gun against her.

Prosecutors allege Michael shot Simeck several times in the back and buttocks as the woman tried to run away.

Court documents said there was no proof that Simeck was armed or had used the stun gun on Michael.

Both cartridges from the stun gun were found to have been used within a three-second time span, which did not leave enough time for a physical altercation, prosecutors allege.

Immediately after the shooting, Michael spoke to a supervisor and compared it with the 2017 shooting of Sneed, saying “I am not as comfortable with this one as the last one,” according to court documents.

Michael has been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the criminal case, which is a standard practice when criminal charges are filed, Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forté said.

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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.
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