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Kansas City Police Officer Shoots And Kills Man In Alleged Carjacking As Peaceful Protests Continue For Third Straight Weekend

061320_Kneeling Brookside_Moreno.jpg
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Protesters along Brookside Boulevard begin to kneel at 2:30 Saturday afternoon during the “Kneel for Nine” protest to coordinate with the nationwide event to remember George Floyd. Veteran protester Joy Wiekum said that events like this provide “a great ripple effect of people who are listening to their conscience.”

The Missouri Highway Patrol is investigating the killing, the result of policy shifts prompted by the recent demonstrations.

Hundreds of people gathered in Kansas City for multiple events Saturday on the third straight weekend of protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd.

At the same time, the Missouri Highway Patrol launched an investigation into the deadly shooting of a man Saturday afternoon by a Kansas City Police officer following an alleged carjacking near 23rd and Topping Avenue.

The involvement of the Highway Patrol was a result of changes made by the Board of Police Commissioners in the wake of recent protests. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted Saturday that one new policy enacted at the board’s meeting last week requires an outside agency to investigate officer-involved shootings in Kansas City.

“Pursuant to our new board policy, the Missouri Highway Patrol is now on the scene to handle the investigation into this incident, rather than the Kansas City Police Department, and will be communicating with the public and press in connection with this incident,” Lucas tweeted.

An initial Missouri Highway Patrol statement said that KCPD officers were called to the scene of an alleged carjacking near 23rd and Topping just after 1:30 Saturday afternoon. An officer located the suspect vehicle a few blocks away and, according to the statement, tried to “affect a traffic stop,” but the suspect drove away.

The suspect eventually lost control of the car near 23rd and Lister and a brief foot chase ensued. At one point, according to the Highway Patrol, the suspect “presented a handgun” and the pursuing officer fired his weapon, striking the suspect.

The suspect, identified as a white male, was pronounced dead around 2 p.m.

061320_Bail Fund Event 1_Moreno.jpg
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Promise Aka “P” and her sister Hussle 4Eva perform at “Conversation for Change” on Saturday in the parking lot of Ruby Jean’s Kitchen & Juicery. They were among several performers and speakers featured at the event sponsored by the Kansas City Community Bail Fund which provided information and resources from the Kansas City Black Mental Health Initiative along with voter registration.

'The start of a movement.'

Meanwhile, two scheduled events Saturday in different parts of town brought together citizens in different ways to express support for the growing nationwide protest movement and also to get educated about the issues—like racism, social injustice and police brutality—being raised.

“It’s the start of a movement. A very long journey,” said Chloe Cooper, a co-organizer of “Conversation for Change,” which took place in the parking lot of Ruby Jean’s Kitchen and Juicery on Troost Avenue.

Cooper and Lauren Worley organized the event to feature speakers and artists as well as raise awareness for the Kansas City Community Bail Fund and register people to vote.

“There needs to be many events like this to keep the momentum going,” Cooper said.

The bail fund, Worley said, is there to connect people who have been arrested and remain in jail because they can’t afford bail, especially in the wake of the recent protests.

061320_Bail Voter Reg_Moreno.jpg
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Heather Physioc (left) watches 27-year-old Stephanie F., register to vote for the first time at the “Conversation for Change” event Saturday in the parking lot of Ruby Jean’s Kitchen & Juicery. Physioc said a big part of giving people an opportunity to register is “reducing friction and increasing access.”

“Today is a way to uplift the Black community,” Cooper added. “It’s a way to create these spaces for us to rise up.”

The Kansas City Council is considering an ordinance that would dismiss any charges brought against non-violent protesters who were arrested during demonstrations at the Country Club Plaza between May 29 and June 2.

In addition to raising awareness and connecting people with services, some participants at the "Conversation for Change" event offered a way to contribute because they couldn’t attend the protests the previous two weeks.

“It’s one way to support and donate to the cause and educate myself by listening to other people,” said Eli Parker, a Smithville resident who wasn’t able to attend the protests because of work.

Tina Spears, another volunteer selling KC Community Bail T-shirts, said she too couldn’t attend the protests because she had hip replacement surgery. She said she was looking for some way to contribute.

Spears described herself as a veteran protester and said she felt she could no longer "stand around and do nothing."

Kneeling in Brookside

Across town in Brookside, however, people did sort of do nothing for exactly nine minutes.

In a protest designed to coordinate with other similar evernts around the country, hundreds of people gathered along Brookside Boulevard holding protest signs with slogans in support of Black Lives Matter.

At precisely 2:30 p.m. Saturday, they all kneeled for nine minutes to remember the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. That marks roughly the time a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck, even as he pleaded that he couldn’t breath, before he died.

The event was billed as “Kneel for Nine in KC: a peaceful social disruption” and was organized by Brookside residents Heather Smith and Emily Akins.

061320_Kneeling 1_Moreno.jpg
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Michelle Bertuglia-Haley, left, who was attending the protest with her family, said she thought it was important for her children to see and be a part of the demonstration. Protesters lined both sides of Brookside Boulevard during the protest that coordinated with the national event happening in many cities at 2:30 in their respective time zones.

Smith, who is white, has two black daughters. She said, “Brookside is primarily white. So one of the main objectives of 'Kneel for Nine' is to engage white allies,” she said. “We thought it would be a good movement to support.”

Michelle Bertuglia-Haley, who was attending the protest with her family, said she thought it was important for her children to see and be a part of the event.

“My husband and I have been very conscientious that we need to help them understand what’s happening right now,” she said. “And we need to help them understand that they have a responsibility to have a voice against injustice.”

“We don’t feel like we can be passive about this. We need to be active and be active examples for them.”

The crowd in Brookside drew a large number of participants whose numbers swelled into the hundreds starting at around two o’clock and culminated with the kneeling at 2:39 which was followed by hugs, a few tears and a rippling round of applause that extended for several blocks along Brookside Boulevard.

One protester who lingered a little longer than others holding her sign was Joy Wiekum. She said this was her fifth protest in the past few weeks. She was at the first protest in Kansas City two weeks ago.

That protest at the plaza gave people an outlet for their anger, she said, an culminated in violent clashes with police.

“I love that we’re having this sort of protest,” Wiekum explained. “I’m really glad these kids got to experience a protest, and really standing for what’s right in a setting that wasn’t scary.”

061320_BLM sign Brookside_Moreno.jpg
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Cordelia Wilson, 8, was one of hundreds of protesters who lined Brookside Boulevard on Saturday to participate in the Kneel for Nine event. The protest was organized as a “peaceful family demonstration” by neighborhood residents Heather Smith and Emily Akins. Hundreds of people lined the street waving signs and then kneeling from 2:30 until 2:39 in remembrance of George Floyd.

As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
Kyle Palmer is the editor of the Shawnee Mission Post, a digital news outlet serving Northeast Johnson County, Kansas. He previously served as KCUR's news director and morning newscaster.
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