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Kansas City Police criticized for pushing Black woman to the ground and calling her an 'animal'

An off-duty KCPD officer threatens a bystander with arrest for taping an altercation with a handcuffed Black woman at Power & Light on January 28.
Urban League of Greater Kansas City
An off-duty KCPD officer threatens a bystander with arrest for taping an altercation with a handcuffed Black woman at Power & Light on Jan. 28.

KCPD says there is an ongoing review and investigation into an altercation caught on cellphone video in the Power & Light District after the Jan. 28 Chiefs’ game.

Kansas City activists said a cellphone video that caught off-duty Kansas City Police officers pushing a handcuffed Black woman face-first into the ground and calling her an “animal” is another example of police mistreatment.

The video, which first surfaced in The Kansas City Star, was shot Jan. 28 in the Power & Light District downtown and shows several officers subduing Daysheion R. Ponds, 25, who was accused of stealing from Pizza Bar. An officer and a security guard walked a screaming and struggling Ponds out of a bar, forced her to the ground and pulled her around by her hair, her face pressed into the brick sidewalk while another officer knelt on her back.

“If you act like an animal, we’re going to treat you like an animal,” one of the officers said.

Officers then pulled her into a private security office where she could be heard screaming. One of the officers threatened the bystander taping the incident with arrest.

“Get back or you’re going to jail,” said the officer, who had blood on his forehead, as he approached the camera. “You can f——— record all you want but we’re not playing this game.”

Ponds faces three municipal court violations, including stealing, disorderly conduct and assault. Ponds told the Star that she was watching the Kansas City Chiefs’ AFC Championship game at the bar with a cousin and his girlfriend when she had an argument with a bartender about her bill and police were called.

Captain Jake Becchina, a KCPD spokesman, confirmed that three off-duty KCPD officers were at Power & Light that day, but declined to give further details, citing an ongoing investigation.

Officers are subject to the same disciplinary procedures whether they're working in a police capacity on- or off-duty, Becchina said. A review is underway, he said.

In any case where an officer is injured or responds to resistance, “the entirety of the events get reviewed by supervisors and command staff,” Becchina said.

Community activists were appalled by the video, which was posted on The Urban League of Greater Kansas City’s Instagram.

“This was not officers just doing their job,” the post reads. “This was excessive force, pure and simple.”

Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, said the video was "disturbing, to say the least." She questioned "why were the officers using such force on a petite woman who was already handcuffed and no threat? Why was the woman detained behind closed doors with what appears to be all male officers? Why was it necessary to characterize the woman as an animal?

"On its face, this incident appears to be yet another failure of KCPD officers to respect the humanity of Black people," Grant said. "I hope Chief (Stacey) Graves will put her money where her mouth is and get to work holding bad cops to account and changing the culture in the KCPD."

Grant also wondered whether the case has been turned over to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker for investigation, and whether it was turned over before or after it got media exposure. Typically, police investigate cases and ultimately deliver them to prosecutors if they find probable cause.

Black Kansas Citians have long claimed that they often face discrimination in the Power and Light District, with some calling it “Power and White.” Two Black men who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against The Cordish Companies, which operates the area, claim they were singled out for abuse and were denied access to a club because their “pants are too f——— baggy.”

Justice Gatson, founder and director of Reale Justice Network, said the community is frustrated that violence escalates in incidents like these again and again, particularly against Black women.

“There always seems to be no accountability from police officers or from our police department in regards to escalation and violence,” she said.

Charging Ponds with crimes is “typical playbook,” she said.

“It’s just an excuse for police officers to be violent. We’ve seen it time and time again,” Gatson said. “Historically, it’s been permissible to beat on Black bodies, so they’re doing what they always have done.”

Two officers caught on video in 2019 beating a Black transgender woman were later charged with excessive force. In 2020, an officer was recorded pulling a pregnant woman to the ground. In 2022, an officer was shown forcing a man to the ground, and KCPD later paid him a $500,000 settlement.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
As KCUR’s race and culture reporter, I work to help readers and listeners build meaningful and longstanding relationships with the many diverse cultures that make up the Kansas City metro. I deliver nuanced stories about the underrepresented communities that call our metro home, and the people whose historically-overlooked contributions span politics, civil rights, business, the arts, sports and every other realm of our daily lives.
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