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Kansas City Police Settle Excessive Force Case, Another Surfaces


A lawsuit accusing three Kansas City, Missouri, police officers of excessive force against a Mexican-American man has been settled for $300,000 in a case that sent one of the officers to jail.

Unlike the many national cases of excessive force by police caught on cell phone video, this case turned on a 19-minute video pulled directly from the dashboard camera of a police cruiser.

The video showed three officers on May 2, 2014, arresting Manuel Palacio, who was being sought for allegedly stealing an ATM card at a shop on Independence Ave. It begins with a surprised Palacio being rammed with the police cruiser and knocked to the ground.

Officers jumped from their cruiser, weapons drawn and pointed at Palacio. He was punched in the ribs, kicked, spit on and threatened with “going to the hospital.” The commands are laced with expletives and one of the officers used a racial epithet generally reserved for African Americans. The video shows officers finding the ATM card on Palacio.

The city settled with Palacio this fall, said his attorney, Tom Porto. But the investigation also showed an incident involving the same officers responding in a similar manner earlier that day, a case recently profiled in The Pitch, which Porto settled for $75,000.

Porto on Thursday called for an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

“This is not an isolated incident,” Porto said. “It looks systematic.”

Named in the lawsuit were Shannon Hansen, Jacob Harris and Sgt. Todd Hall.

In May, Hansen pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and spent a month in “shock time,” a boot camp-like jail, in Polk County. Hall is no longer with the department and Harris is currently in an administrative position, said Sgt. Kari Thompson, a police spokeswoman.

Peggy Lowe is investigations editor at KCUR and Harvest Public Media. You can find her on Twitter at @peggyllowe.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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