Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland apologized to relatives Thursday night for statements he made following the death of Kansas City, Kansas, police Capt. Dave Melton.
“I want to publicly reiterate my apology to them for the timing of my remarks during the press conference following the death of their brother, Captain Dave Melton,” Holland said at a meeting of the United Government Board of Commissioners.
After the meeting ended, Holland went down on the floor and met with Melton’s family to offer a copy of the statement read at the meeting.
A few days after Melton's July 19 death, Holland said at a news conference that "we have seen the loss of innocent lives at the hands of police." It was, he said, an attempt to place Melton's death in the context of national violence associated with police in recent months.
But Melton's relatives and other members of the Wyandotte County law enforcement community took offense. They said the comments were unnecessary and unconnected to the death of Capt. Melton.
Holland attempted to rectify that misstep Thursday night.
His apology was directed at Capt. Melton's brother and sister-in-law, John and Lynn Melton, who the mayor met with recently.
“I was honored to sit down with John Melton and Lynn Melton," Holland said at the meeting. "I appreciate their taking the time and initiative to share their hearts with me. I felt the dialogue was very helpful.”
Lynn Melton says the apology was not enough.
"Of course I wanted him to say he was sorry, but I wanted him to address everyone that was offended, not just us," Melton says. "When you offend the firefighters, police and community, that offends us too.
“I think it’s a shame we had to ask for an apology."
Capt. Melton, 46, was killed responding to a July 19 armed disturbance at Second Street and Edgerton Drive in Kansas City, Kansas. Melton arrived at the scene to assist other officers and was attempting to contact a fleeing suspect when a shot fired through the window of his police cruiser struck him.
He died about an hour later. Melton had been with the department since 1999.
Melton was the second member of the force to die in recent months. In May, Detective Brad Lancaster was shot and killed checking out a report of a suspicious person near the Hollywood Casino.
Lynn Melton says she was still upset even after the apology.
“It offended us to know he used a national outburst to address something like that. That really had nothing to do with the loss of our family member,” she says.
Zach Linhares is a member of a University of Missouri-Kansas City student journalism reporting team focused on Wyandotte County this semester.