Kansas City, Missouri Police Department Responds to Public Outcry Regarding Wednesday Night Arrests

Bekah Swank

10/1/2020- Kansas City, Missouri

File photo of Captain David Jackson of the Kansas City Police Department

Photo by Andrei Stoica

The Kansas City Police Department held a press conference at police headquarters this afternoon following the arrests of two people last night in Kansas City, Missouri.

Word spread about the arrests after onlookers posted several videos to social media, where they garnered outrage from citizens and questions from local media. One video shows a pregnant Black woman, whose identity has not yet been released, being held on the ground by a police officer.

In addition to reporters from several local news stations, many local activists attended today’s press conference, including attorney Stacy Shaw. Shaw stated she is legally representing the pregnant woman shown in the video. According to Shaw and comments on the original social media post, the arrests took place at a balloon release, where several people were “mourning the loss of another violent murder victim.”

Captain David Jackson, spokesperson for the Kansas City Police Department, said that he believes the arrests occurred after a local security firm called the police on behalf of a local business.

“We understand the optics of the video. We understand the emotions,” said Jackson. “We’re definitely empathetic to that.” He encouraged anyone present during the arrests who felt they witnessed police conduct that was “not positive” to file a formal complaint on the department’s website or in person, but said he thought the officer who detained the pregnant woman “took as much care as he could without causing anymore damage than he had to.”

Jackson declined to answer public questions, limiting responses to queries from the media. He said he does not know whether a formal complaint has been filed or what kind of action the police department will take in response to the videos.

Shaw said her client was filming the arrest of a man at the scene when an officer requested she stop filming. Allegedly the woman refused, and the officer then pushed her to the ground. Shaw said she expects to release the video her client filmed on Shaw’s Facebook page tomorrow.

According to statements made by Jackson and Shaw, both the man and the pregnant woman who were placed under arrest last night were subsequently hospitalized. Shaw said her client was released from the hospital last night, but that this afternoon, she was readmitted for severe pain.

In response to the press conference, Stacy Shaw said, “This is a lack of transparency.” She went on to explain that last night’s arrests serve as one example of the reason protestors have repeatedly called for Chief Rick Smith’s resignation. “There is a complete lack of accountability, a complete lack of humanity when it comes to keeping citizens safe.” She criticized the officer’s use of force used against the pregnant woman, and called for the chief of police to respond with immediate action in the interests of public safety. “We deserve the type of credible and courageous leadership that would have come out here today and said, ‘We are not going to allow this from our officers,’ that ‘We have immediately put this officer on leave.’ I didn’t hear that.”

Shaw has been vocal for months now, along with other local activists, in affirming that the causes of violence in Kansas City run deep and will only be exacerbated by the use of force and increased funding for police. Among them, she says, are inequitable access to education and healthcare resources east of Troost. “There will be no end [to violence] until we imagine a different type of community safety,”Shaw said. “This is why we have had 18 weeks of sustained protests in Kansas City.”

Addressing recent plans the city has made to engage with the community on public safety issues, Shaw challenged the mayor and called for more sincerity. “We don't need another website, Quinton Lucas,” she said. "We don’t need another walking tour. We do not need town hall meetings. You already know what you should be doing. We’ve been telling you - community leaders who you did not consult before you issued your plan.”

After the press conference ended, several protestors, including mothers and children, continued to stand on the steps of the police headquarters.

Shaw stated her office would be contacting Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), which manages peace officer licenses in the state of Missouri, to request they revoke the license of the officer who arrested her client. “We will no longer be terrorized by those we’re paying to protect and serve us.”

Published on: 10/1/2020