5 Kansas City officers charged with crimes still on the job

FILE - (KMBC via AP)
FILE - (KMBC via AP)(KY3)
Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 9:54 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Five Kansas City police officers facing criminal charges remain on the job, with four on administrative duty and one still on patrol.

Community leaders who have been critical of the Kansas City Police Department say they are particularly angry that a detective charged with manslaughter, Eric DeValkenaere, remains on administrative duty and is being paid, according to the Kansas City Star.

“I think it’s despicable,” said Randy Fikki, senior pastor of Unity Southeast, who led several Black Lives Matter demonstrations last summer.

Police spokeswoman Capt. Leslie Foreman said department’s policies give supervisors discretion to determine whether to suspend officers and whether that suspension should be paid or unpaid.

That is despite a separate policy that says officers charged with a crime related to their use of a department firearm will be suspended, which would apply to DeValkenaere, who is charged in the 2019 shooting of Cameron Lamb in Lamb’s backyard following a traffic incident. Officials said that policy requiring suspension when an officer’s gun is used is under review.

DeValkenaere was suspended with pay after the shooting, but returned to work in January. He is the only one charged in an incident involving a gun.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who serves on the supervisory Board of Kansas City Police Commissioners, said officers charged with felonies should be suspended with pay. But Lucas said the department’s policies need to be clarified.

“I would think that we need to be consistent with the policies as produced,” Lucas said. “In all situations, to the extent that there is a departure, I find it very troubling. And I would hope, although not be optimistic, that the board would ensure that those policies are being followed.”

Some policing experts criticized the decision to keep officers who have been charged on the force.

“Criminal charges raise serious concerns about an officer’s fitness to protect and serve,” said Lauren Bonds, legal director for the National Police Accountability Project. “The chief’s decision to allow officers to continue their employment while charges are pending needlessly exposes communities to abuse and undermines the prosecutor’s decision to pursue an indictment.”

Sgt. Matthew Neal was indicted last year on a felony assault charge for allegedly placing his knee on the back of a 15-year-old boy’s neck and forcing the boy’s head into the pavement while in handcuffs.

Matthew Brummett and Charles Prichard both face felony assault charges for alleged excessive use of force when they arrested Breona Hill in May 2019. A video showed officers pinning her to the ground and slamming her head into the pavement.

Nicholas McQuillen was charged this year with misdemeanor assault for allegedly pepper spraying a teenager at protests last summer. He is the only charged officer still on patrol.

All five officers are white. All of the victims in the cases are Black.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.