© 2022 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jackson County Prosecutor files gun charges against woman shot by Kansas City Police

A still from body camera footage released by the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office appears to show Leonna Hale holding a firearm during an encounter with Kansas City Police on May 27.
Jackson County Prosecutor's Office
/
A still from body camera footage released by the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office appears to show Leonna Hale holding a firearm during an encounter with Kansas City police on May 27.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said her review of police body camera footage shows the woman was “continually displaying a weapon during her encounter with police and also appeared to be attempting to flee.”

The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office has filed gun charges against a woman shot by a Kansas City, Missouri, police officer at a Family Dollar last Friday.

Kansas City, Kansas, resident Leonna M. Hale, 26, was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon — both of which are felonies — and resisting a lawful detention, a misdemeanor.

The shooting made national headlines after some media reports quoted an eyewitness who said Hale appeared to be unarmed, and that she told police at the time that she was pregnant.

In response, community groups like the Reale Justice Network organized a protest set to take place Wednesday evening at the Family Dollar where Hale was shot, at 634 Prospect Avenue.

The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office said police shot Hale, who is African American, after they tried to question her and another person about the vehicle they were in being involved in a robbery.

In her statement, Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said her review of police body camera footage shows Hale was “continually displaying a weapon during her encounter with police and also appeared to be attempting to flee.”

"Some false narratives about what happened last Friday night at 6th and Prospect Avenue, unfortunately, were relied upon by some media and other sources," Baker said. "Our job, as prosecutors, is to remain neutral and review all evidence. Our review of body cam videos provided the actual accounting of events that night."

Baker’s office also released a still image taken from one of the officers' body cameras. It appears to show a Black woman holding a gun in her right hand, but it does not show whether she pointed the gun at police.

"The two officers stated that she was armed with what they believed to be a handgun. Body camera footage confirms the officers’ statements that Hale was holding a handgun," Baker continued. "Still photos, taken from body cam footage, of this encounter also demonstrate a weapon was present and in the hands of the defendant."

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Andy Bell told KCUR on Tuesday that claims that Hale is pregnant are dubious at best, although that information is protected by patient-doctor privacy laws. Hale was taken to an area hospital for treatment after the shooting.

Bell said the car being used by Hale and a male driver — who has not been identified yet — matched the description and license plate number of a car involved in a Kansas City, Kansas, robbery.

The highway patrol investigates all shootings that involve KCPD officers.

In a tweet Wednesday evening, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said he was grateful for the prosecutor’s statement and release of the image.

“Body cameras have been a positive addition to reaching the truth in public safety investigations,” he wrote. “We will continue to work hard to get the whole truth out on issues as fast as we can.”

The full footage from the officer body cameras has not yet been released.

As culture editor, I oversee KCUR’s coverage of race, culture, the arts, food and sports. I work with reporters to make sure our stories reflect the fullest view of the place we call home, so listeners and readers feel primed to explore the places, projects and people who make up a vibrant Kansas City. Email me at luke@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.