Kansas City Fire Department Paramedic Found Not Guilty Of Spitting On A Black Toddler
A judge found a Kansas City Fire Department paramedic not guilty on all charges Wednesday after he was accused of spitting on a black toddler at an Overland Park, Kansas, restaurant.
Terrence Skeen, 42, was charged with assault, battery and disorderly conduct after a confrontation at Hooters in February.
The family said Skeen spit on the three-year-old boy and called him the n-word because the toddler was racing around the restaurant and bothering Skeen and his dinner companion.
Raymond Harris, the toddler's grandfather told the court, Skeen called him the n-word and threatened to shoot him.
Besides Harris, the city put on two other witnesses, who said they either heard Skeen’s threats or his use of the n-word.
However, defense attorney Tom Bath pointed out numerous inconsistencies between statements made to police and testimony in court Wednesday.
Bath also asked Overland Park Police Det. Dave Zickel why charges were brought before police reviewed surveillance video from the restaurant. The video did not capture the incidents.
Zickel said the witness statements were enough for him and his supervisors. Bath suggested that the department felt pressure from the media and the public to bring charges.
Skeen, a firefighter and paramedic, took the stand in his own defense. He testified he was openly gay and said, "I have no tolerance for discrimination."
A parade of KCFD colleagues, both black and white, also testified. They insisted Skeen never showed any racism while on the job in Kansas City, Missouri.
It took municipal court Judge Cynthia Cornwell only a minute to find Skeen not guilty of all charges. She said the witness testimony was inconsistent and the city presented no corroborating evidence to back up the witnesses.
An attorney for the family said they were disappointed in the verdict.
“You can be a victim of racism in this country and not receive justice,” attorney Reginald Stockman said.
He would not say whether the family was planning to file a civil lawsuit.
Sam Zeff is KCUR's Metro Reporter. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samzeff