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Pregnant Victim Of Kansas City Police Arrest Is 'Traumatized,' As Protesters Remain At City Hall

Carlos Moreno/KCUR.org
Deja Stallings sits while waiting for her turn to speak at a press conference at People's City on the steps of the Kansas City city hall on Thursday.

Deja Stallings says her unborn daughter is the latest victim of police brutality. Both the Kansas City Police Department and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s office say they’re reviewing the incident.

The pregnant victim of a violent incident with Kansas City Police spoke today about the trauma she experienced.

"My baby girl has not even been born yet, but she is a victim of the police," Stallings said during a press conference where she began to cry.

25-year-old Deja Stallings, who is nine months pregnant, was tossed to the ground and handcuffed facedown last Wednesday while a Kansas City police officer put his knee on her lower back. Police say she was interfering with an arrest.

According to her attorney, Stacy Shaw, Stallings has been to the hospital twice since the incident and has a doctor’s appointment Friday. Health experts advise against even sleeping facedown during the late stages of pregnancy, but Shaw said Stallings' baby, who she plans to name Dsyre, is healthy so far.

Shaw read Stallings’ prepared statement when she was unable to finish.

“I am trying to stay strong, but I know my baby is a fighter. She needs to be the last child who is a victim of KCPD. She needs the demands of this occupation to be met,” Shaw said on Stallings’ behalf.

Video of the incident circulated on social media last week and prompted protesters to set up tents on the lawn of city hall beginning Friday.

They vow to remain until Police Chief Rick Smith, as well as the arresting officer are fired. They are also calling for the Kansas City Council to divest 50% of the police department budget and reinvest it into health, educational, and housing programs that support the Black community.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has repeatedly called their demands unrealistic and said he does not intend to call for a vote of the Board of Police Commissioners on the topic of Smith’s employment.

Civil rights leaders, public officials speak in support of protesters

Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, said as a mother and grandmother, it was physically painful to watch the video of Stallings’ arrest.

“It brought me to tears because I could feel the pain — just as I felt the pain when I watched the murder of George Floyd — the pain, the agony that came up out of my body,” Grant said. "I was screaming...because of systems, racism and brutality that is perpetrated against Black people all over this country. And right here in Kansas City."

Carlos Moreno/KCUR.org
Deja Stallings, middle, is supported by her sister, Redd (left) and her mother Andrea while Deja attempts to speak at a press conference at People's City on the steps of city hall on Thursday.

Grant has been calling for the removal of Smith as police chief since his handling of the protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. She listed the names of several Black Kansas Citians who have been killed or hurt at the hands of Kansas City police.

“Why is it so easy to look away from our suffering and ignore Black people's pain and despair? How many more cases? Apparently Ryan Stokes, Terrence Bridges, Cameron Lamb, and Donnie Sanders aren't enough. Apparently Briona Hill, having her head slammed on the pavement during an arrest is not enough,” Grant said.

“Apparently a 15-year-old Black boy having his head slammed on the pavement, Teeth broken out, being forced to crawl on the ground like an animal held in a chokehold while screaming, 'I can't breathe,' is not enough. Apparently slamming Deja, a nine-month-pregnant woman on the ground, forcing her on her stomach and placing a knee on her back is not enough.”

Kansas City councilmembers Brandon Ellington and Eric Bunch also spoke in support of protesters. Bunch said he supports redirecting a portion of the police budget to health and educational programs.

“The outcomes speak for themselves. As the police budget has steadily increased over the last 10 years, so too, has the city's violent crime,” Bunch said.

Stallings’ mother, Andrea, said she tried to contact Lucas’ office.

“When I found out about this, the first person that I called was the mayor. The secretary told me that he was too busy to speak with me about the situation that happened with my child,” she said.

Lucas said on Twitter he would check to see who interacted with Stallings’ mother and that he was “always happy to talk to her.”

Investigations into the incident

The prosecutor’s office confirms it is reviewing the officer’s use of force in the incident.

Kansas City Police Sergeant Jake Becchina says as of Thursday, they’ve turned all relevant material over to the prosecutor’s office.

“And that includes investigative reports and supplemental reports … at least two hours of surveillance video, 17 dash cam videos, the 911 call recording, the air tape recording of the officers talking on the radio, as well as the dispatch record,” Becchina said.

Becchina added that the identity of the arresting officer will remain private until criminal charges are filed, if any.

In recent months, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has publicly stated that the police department has been uncooperative when it comes to investigations of police officers.

Becchina said that is not the case in the current situation.

“We're continuing to cooperate with the prosecutor's office and we're both on the same page, one hundred percent, with regard to this,” Becchina said.

The Kansas City Police Department is also reviewing the incident to see whether any policies or procedures were violated – that review is conducted by the officer’s supervisor and a final determination will be made by Chief Smith. Becchina confirmed that the officer is still on his regular duty throughout the review process.

Carlos Moreno/KCUR.org
Attorney Stacy Shaw told the assembled media and others at People's City that "Rick Smith will quit before we do" during a press conference at Kansas City city hall Thursday.

The city council was expected to discuss whether to remove protesters during its regular meeting today but did not take any public action. Protesters, meanwhile, say they have no intention of leaving City Hall until their demands are met.

“There will be no negotiation. Either our demands are met or they are not. And if we are violently removed, we will be back the next day,” Shaw said.

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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