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Kansas City police sergeant pleads not guilty to felony assault of 15-year-old boy

By Anna Spoerre October 20, 2020 10:36 AM, Updated 1 hour 16 minutes ago

KC police sergeant charged with felony assault on 15-year-old who indictment says pleaded ‘I can’t breathe’

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced a Jackson County grand jury indicted Kansas City police sergeant Matthew T. Neal on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, for third-degree assault of a teenage victim in November 2019.

A Kansas City police sergeant indicted for felony assault involving a 15-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty,according to his attorney.

A grand jury indicted Sgt. Matthew T. Neal, 40, of third-degree assault of a teenage victim on Aug. 21 after reviewing evidence from a Nov. 14, 2019, incident in a parking lot at 51st Street and Troost Avenue.

Neal pleaded not guilty to the assault charge Tuesday morning, his attorney, Sean McCauley, confirmed.TOP ARTICLESKC metro adds 26 deaths, over 300 COVID-19 cases as rolling average continues to rise

The 18-year veteran of the department was assigned to the patrol bureau. Neil is currently on paid suspension, Capt. David Jackson, a spokesman for the police department, said in an email Tuesday.

‘I can’t breathe.’

The teen was lying on the ground when Neal allegedly forced his knee on the back of the teen’s head.

The victim is heard saying “I can’t breathe,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said during a press conference announcing the criminal indictment on Aug. 21.

The teen suffered a gash on his head, bruising and broken teeth, the prosecutor’s office said. He was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital for treatment and received six stitches near his hairline. As of August, he was still receiving treatment for the injuries to his teeth.

Baker has said she was disturbed that the incident occurred in November, but her office did not become aware of it until the spring.

‘All of us want justice.’

Police Chief Rick Smith said the department became aware of the incident after a complaint was made and investigated by the Office of Community Complaints.

The case file was sent to Baker’s office as well as the FBI and federal prosecutors.

“All of us want justice,” Smith said in an August statement. “And we remain committed to the legal process going forward.”

Brad Lemon, president of the Kansas City Fraternal Order of the Police, said in an August statement that the police lodge is aware of the charges against Neal.

“The Lodge supports Sgt. Neal and believes that his actions were justified under the totality of the circumstances,” Lemon said . “We will support our brother as this matter proceeds to court, where we are confident that he will be ultimately exonerated.”

According to charging documents, the victim was a passenger in a car that fled as police attempted to pull it over.

The vehicle came to a stop in the parking lot of Go-Chicken-Go. The driver and the teen exited the car and got on their knees with their hands up, charging documents said.

The teen did not struggle or pull away, Baker said.

Neal pressed his knee into the teen’s head and neck, pinning the teen’s face into the pavement and forcing him to struggle for oxygen, charging documents said.

The teen was not arrested or charged with any crime associated with the incident.

Neal was the fourth Kansas City police officer to be indicted by the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office since May.

In June, a Jackson County grand jury indicted Eric J. DeValkenare, 41, in the 2019 killing of Cameron Lamb, who was shot while sitting in his pickup truck in his own backyard.

Weeks earlier, two police officers, Matthew G. Brummett and Charles Prichard, were each charged with assaulting Breona Hill, 30, a transgender woman they arrested. The officers were accused of slamming Hill’s face against the concrete sidewalk and kneed her in the face, torso and ribs.

The Star’s Glenn Rice and Katie Moore contributed reporting.
Read more here: https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article246576333.html#storylink=cpy