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Kansas City Councilman Brandon Ellington Denies Charge In 18th And Vine Altercation With Freedom Inc. Official

Brandon Ellington during a city commission meeting.
Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3
Brandon Ellington during a city commission meeting.

Freedom Inc. President Rodney Bland filed a complaint with police about Ellington, who wouldn’t say if the two men crossed paths on March 20.

Kansas City councilman Brandon Ellington denied allegations Wednesday that he assaulted the president of Freedom Inc., the prominent Kansas City political organization that registers and mobilizes Black voters.

Police charged Ellington Wednesday with assault stemming from a March 20 incident in which he allegedly “poked” Rodney Bland “in (the) chest multiple times,” according to municipal court records.

While the records don’t name Bland, his attorney and the Kansas City Police Department confirmed that he filed the complaint.

Bland’s attorney, Clinton Adams, told KCUR Wednesday that Bland was in the 18th and Vine District with his family to celebrate his sister’s anniversary.

“As (Bland) approached Soirée, a restaurant in the district, he was accosted, assaulted and threatened by an elected official,” Adams said. “He reported the incident to law enforcement authorities, who, after conducting an investigation, filed the charges.”

Kansas City Police spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina said in an email the “victim walked into the station to report an assault.” In an email, Becchina said police reports typically take two to three weeks “to be approved for dissemination.”

Becchina told KCUR police have interviewed “multiple witnesses” to the assault. Becchina said in misdemeanor cases it’s typical to get a statement from the victim and witnesses. From there, police determine if there’s probable cause and then issue a summons to the alleged perpetrator.

Ellington said he learned about the charges from when he was approached by a reporter preparing an article later posted by the Kansas City Star. In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Ellington did not answer multiple questions about whether he was at 18th and Vine during the time of the incident. He called Bland a “quasi-political player” but Ellington said he had “no relationship” with the Freedom president.

“I have not physically threatened to assault nobody nor did I physically assault anybody,” Ellington said.

Ellington did not answer questions about whether he talked with Bland on March 20 or if he was in the 18th and Vine district at the time of the incident.

“I plan on being as honest and as truthful and fully engaging with the law, the courts,” Ellington said.

Because the case is now in court, Ellington said any communication with KCPD about the allegation would be through his attorney. He declined to say whether he has hired a lawyer. Ellington also criticized police for not reaching out to him before issuing him a summons Wednesday morning. Ellington is due in court on April 29. Ellington is a former Missouri state representative who was elected to the city council in 2019.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman was the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3.
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