• Federal
  • State
  • Municipal

Two KC police officers indicted in assault of transgender woman. Will there be justice?

By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board May 15, 2020 05:45 PM , Updated May 17, 2020 11:29 AM Police forcibly arrest a person on a Kansas City sidewalk Roderick Reed, 52, shot video of the May 24 arrest of a person later identified as Brianna “BB” Hill, 30, of Kansas City. Hill was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. By Footage recorded from Roderick Reed’s mobile phone |

Roderick Reed, 52, shot video of the May 24 arrest of a person later identified as Brianna “BB” Hill, 30, of Kansas City. Hill was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. By Footage recorded from Roderick Reed’s mobile phone | Kansas City police officers Matthew Brummett and Charles Prichard were indicted Friday by a Jackson County grand jury a year after a disturbing physical encounter with a transgender woman was caught on video. Once lauded as heroes and recipients of the Kansas City Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Brummett and Prichard were each charged with one count of misdemeanor fourth-degree assault in connection with the arrest last year of 30-year-old Brianna “BB” Hill.

The officers were issued summons on Friday to appear in court at a later date, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said. They have been placed on administrative leave from the Kansas City Police Department, pending the outcome of their legal proceedings. Grand jury proceedings are secret, so we may never know what evidence prosecutors presented. The department’s internal inquiry into the matter yielded little in terms of substance. An indictment from the grand jury indicates police didn’t believe there was probable cause to go ahead and recommend charges against the officers — even though much of the troubling encounter was captured in a damning video. But the grand jurors apparently reached a different conclusion. “This case is particularly disappointing,” Baker told The Star Editorial Board. “My office was prevented from filing the charges independent of a grand jury.” That reflects poorly on the Kansas City Police Department, which has a long history of secrecy and denial when it comes to wrongdoing by its officers. While there was no indication that police targeted Hill because of her gender, the charges are serious allegations. The officers still will have their day in court, but the indictments send an important message to the community that police in Kansas City will be held accountable for actions deemed unlawful. For too long, Kansas City police officers involved in questionable use of force incidents have dodged legal bullets. Part of Hill’s arrest last May on suspicion of disorderly conduct, trespassing and resisting arrest was captured on video by a passerby’s mobile phone. The footage remains painful to watch. While pinned to the ground, Hill’s face was violently slammed to the pavement. Other transgressions followed. Photos provided by Hill’s attorney show the painful wounds that resulted. The attorney, David Smith, likened the officers’ behavior on video to that of hardened criminals. “These officers are thugs,” Smith said. In the video footage, she did not appear to resist and did not appear to pose a threat to police, herself or others. The aggressive tactics continued long after Hill had been subdued. Of course, the passerby’s video didn’t capture the entire incident. Other credible evidence must have led jurors to conclude that a crime most likely occurred. Police were called after Hill and an employee at a store near Brush Creek Boulevard and Virginia Avenue engaged in a verbal confrontation. Hill was asked to leave when police were summoned, according to a police report. Hill, an African American transgender woman who also spelled her name as Breonna Be’Be Hill, was killed months later in an unrelated shooting. In January, Allan Robinson of Kansas City was charged with unlawful use of a weapon in connection with Hill’s death. Attempts to reach Hill’s attorney for comment were unsuccessful. Hill was homeless when she died. “Generally, most folks that live on the streets don’t feel they will ever get justice,” said Kris Wade, executive director of the Justice Project of Kansas City. “But sometimes they do.” Wade had known Hill for years. She described Hill as an intelligent person who loved to read, listen to music and write poetry. Hill was fearless, Wade said, and she didn’t deserve the fate that befell her. What Hill still does deserve is justice. The indictments against the officers are a step in the right direction. Read more here: https://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article242777676.html#storylink=cpy