Government & Politics

Missouri lawmaker files bill making crime of police shooting person with hands up

Vernon Howard Jr. reacts to police shooting data

The Star showed data from 47 fatal police shootings to Vernon Howard Jr., senior pastor at St. Mark Union Church and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City. Howard said he was concerned about the results.
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The Star showed data from 47 fatal police shootings to Vernon Howard Jr., senior pastor at St. Mark Union Church and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City. Howard said he was concerned about the results.

A Missouri lawmaker from Kansas City has filed a bill that would define a criminal offense committed if a police officer shoots a person with their hands up.

State Rep. Brandon Ellington, a Kansas City Democrat, filed House Bill 1086 late last month.

The bill says that “a law enforcement officer commits the offense of shooting a victim while surrendering if the officer shoots a victim while the victim has his or her hands raised in surrender.”

The offense would be a Class A felony if the person surrendering was killed, according to the bill.

In a press release distributed by The Missouri Times, Ellington explained the reasoning behind the bill.

“Police shootings are under counted,” the statement said. “Although recent reform and training efforts have worked to bring down police shootings, the U.S. Justice Department has moved away from these reforms. It’s up to the states to take action, and I believe this bill will serve as a deterrent.”

As of Sunday, no hearings had been scheduled for the bill in the Missouri House.

Ellington’s bill comes amid continuing nationwide controversy over police shootings. In Kansas City, as elsewhere, young black men have been killed in police shootings in disproportionate numbers compared with the population.

Missouri was the setting for one of the nation’s most high-profile police shootings in the 2014 Michael Brown case.

This month in Sacramento, Calif., renewed protests met a district attorney’s decision not to indict two police officers who shot an unarmed man named Stephon Clark last year.

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Ian Cummings is the breaking news editor for The Kansas City Star, where he started as a reporter in 2015. He is a Kansas City native who graduated from the University of Kansas in 2012.


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