Force One Security and Consulting should face consequences for hiring an unlicensed private security guard charged with the murder of a Kansas City man. And the owners of the small bar and grill where the shooting happened should bear some responsibility as well.
Police reports and statements from witnesses indicate that security guards Christopher L. Jones and Markell Pinkins fatally shot Kevin Thomas last month for little more than being intoxicated and striking an unoccupied vehicle as he tried to exit a parking lot near East 24th Street and Hardesty Avenue.
The penalty for striking a parked car while under the influence of alcohol is not a death sentence in Missouri.
Jones and Pinkins were among a group of guards hired by Force One owner Lamont Semien to provide security at the nearby Yum Yum Bar and Grill at 24th Street and Van Brunt Boulevard.
They were more like hired guns, according to the police report. They had no authority to question or detain Thomas on a public street, let alone shoot dead the unarmed 45-year-old who presented no apparent threat.
Jones and Pinkins were charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. A third guard, Leon Arthur Kirk Doniphan, and Jones were charged with tampering with evidence.
Representatives from the Yum Yum Bar and Grill could not be reached for comment. Semien did not respond to multiple messages left by The Star.
According to the Overland Park-based private security firm’s website, Semien was once a full-time officer in Mission. He’s currently a part-time officer in Westwood.
Any private security guard working in Kansas City is required by law to be licensed by the Kansas City Police Department. Two of the men were licensed at the time of the shooting. Jones was not. He eventually told police he was not commissioned to carry a weapon in Missouri after initially denying he was armed or fired any shots.
Kansas City police say Jones’ right to carry a firearm was revoked in 2006 after he impersonated an officer and made a false police report.
All three men will have their day in court. But what about the owners of the security company and the bar and grill? Will they be held culpable for hiring or contracting with an unlicensed guard? That remains to be seen.
Private security is big business. It’s also necessary. But no security firm should allow their guards to skirt laws requiring them to be trained and licensed.
And small businesses such as Yum Yum should never cut corners to save on security measures. If owners failed to check the guards’ credentials, they should be held accountable.
Force One’s lack of oversight and due diligence are obvious and troubling as well.
Both entities share responsibility for Thomas’ death with the guards who allegedly shot him. All should pay a price for this murder.