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KC officer killed two and injured teen, but police panel says it’s not a training concern

By Katie Moore Updated March 21, 2024
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A Kansas City police officer fatally shot two people and injured a third in June 2023 near 31st Street and Van Brunt Boulevard. A Kansas City police officer fatally shot two people and injured a third in June 2023 near 31st Street and Van Brunt Boulevard. After reviewing a shooting where a police officer killed an unarmed woman and injured a teenager in 2023, a Kansas City Police Department panel made no policy or training recommendations. The officer is still employed and patrolling. In total, officer Blayne Newton has fatally shot three people and injured a fourth. He has also been accused of placing his knee into the back of a pregnant woman, beating and using a Taser on a teenager, and assaulting a woman while working off-duty. The shooting the department reviewed happened last summer.

The Star reviewed dashboard and body camera footage last week. On June 9, Newton was driving near East 31st Street and Van Brunt Boulevard when he saw a disturbance between two vehicles. A person on the driver’s side of a truck pointed a firearm out the window toward a white van and then drove off. Dashboard camera footage showed Newton, who had been behind the truck, pulled up to the passenger’s side of the white van and immediately opened fire. The van rolled through the intersection before coming to a stop. The passenger in the front seat, Marcell Nelson, 42, who was armed, died, according to John Picerno, an attorney involved in the case. The driver, Kristen Fairchild, 42, was not armed, Picerno said. She also died. Newton fired 15 times, according to Picerno. A teenager in the backseat was also struck. Two other juveniles in the backseat were not hit.

Recordings from other officers called the scene a “shitshow.” Another said, “You can’t make this up.” Department reviews use of force KCPD’s Notable Event Review Panel, or NERP, reviews officers’ actions and can issue policy or training recommendations for the department. It also weighs if the officer should be allowed to return to duty. It is one way that, in theory, police leaders make formal judgments on officers’ use of force. After reviewing Newton’s most recent shooting, the group made no training or policy recommendations, according to records obtained by The Star on Wednesday.

“There could be instances where an officer’s past actions could be part of an internal investigation, or a criminal investigation, both of those things took place in this case as well, but this notable event review panel in particular is not an investigation in those terms,” said Capt. Jake Becchina, a spokesman for the police department. “It’s not generally productive to make any recommendations about policy updates or training changes based on things outside the particular incident being reviewed.”

Picerno said it was “shocking to think that killing unarmed people is justifiable under their current policy.” “It’s more sad than anything else.” Information on internal investigations is a closed record. The Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated the shooting and forwarded reports to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, said Sgt. Andy Bell, a spokesman for the highway patrol. Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said the case remains under review. The NERP has not made any policy recommendations in the past 69 use of force incidents it has reviewed dating back to June 2014. The panel has issued nine training recommendations, with the most recent relating to a December 23, 2019, shooting.

History of force Newton, who has been with KCPD since January 2017, has shot and killed another person who was unarmed. In March 2020, Newton was patrolling near 51st Street and Prospect Avenue when he began following a man driving a Chevy Tahoe. The driver, later identified as Donnie Sanders, pulled over near the end of an alley and ran as Newton got out of his patrol car and began chasing him. Dashboard camera footage did not record a view of the two men, though Newton was heard yelling commands at Sanders to stop and show his hands. Newton fired five times, striking Sanders three times. Sanders, 47, died at a hospital the next morning. A day later, the police department said Sanders was not carrying a weapon. Prosecutors said they did not have sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Newton. Seven months after Sanders’ shooting,

Newton was captured on video as he put his knee on a woman’s back with her belly on the ground. The woman, Deja Stallings, was nine months pregnant at the time. In March 2022, the police department paid $325,000 as part of a legal settlement involving a Kansas City teenager who was punched more than 10 times and shocked with a Taser by three KCPD officers. Newton was one of the three.

Last month, Newton was named in a lawsuit claiming he grabbed and twisted a woman’s arms and placed the heel of his boot on her foot and grinded it down. The Office of Community Complaints sustained the woman’s allegations of excessive force. Newton is assigned to the patrol bureau, Becchina said Wednesday.

Read more at: https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article286921050.html#storylink=cpy