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Friendly Fire Possible In Shooting Of Independence Police Officer

Frank Morris
KCUR 89.3

Independence police officer Thomas Wagstaff, who was shot in the head during a robbery Wednesday, may have been hit accidentally by another police officer. 

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker lays blame for Wednesday’s shooting squarely on the men charged with the robbery. Ronar Santiago-Torres and Joseph Wyatt and their alleged accomplices Donald Nussbaum and James McChan face charges in the the robbery at 36th and Delaware in Independence.

“I hold them hold them accountable in every possible way for his injuries, and I will continue to do so,” says Peters Baker.

Kansas City police are investigating the possibility that officer Wagstaff was hit by friendly fire.

“It is possible that through some kind of freakish event or some kind of one in a million scenario that could not be expected and certainly could not be replicated in a lab if you tried to repeat it that that incident could have happened at that scene," says Peters Baker.

Peters Baker says officer Wagstaff is fighting for his life. He remained in critical condition as of Thursday evening.

Santiago-Torres, 27, and Wyatt, 28, are charged with Class A felony assault on a law enforcement officer, robbery, armed criminal action, burglary and kidnapping.

McChan, 56, and Nussbaum, 51, are charged with kidnapping, burglary, robbery and armed criminal action. The two allegedly drove Santiago-Torres and Wyatt to the crime scene.

The Kansas City Star reports Wyatt as admitting to police that the two younger men broke into the home, tied up, beat and threatened to kill a man living there, stole over $1,000, and drove away in his SUV when police arrived. 

Frank Morris is a national correspondent and senior editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @FrankNewsman. 

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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