KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Clergy and community activists are joining a woman in demanding a federal investigation into a 2013 police shooting that killed her son in Kansas City, Missouri.
Narene Stokes-James and her supporters said Wednesday that they want to know whether crimes or civil rights violations were committed in the death of Ryan Stokes. He was 24 when he was shot after a foot chase near the Power & Light District, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/2ddADHL ) reported.
At issue are differing accounts about the shooting, which Stokes-James said she learned about recently. Officer William Thompson, who shot Stokes, and his partner were awarded commendations from the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners for “ending the threat.” A copy of the commendation certificate says Stokes was armed with a gun and pointed it at officers who were pursuing him. Stokes was black, and Thompson is biracial.
However, investigators concluded that Stokes had put the gun in a car just before he was shot. Stokes-James said her son was unarmed and the commendation account conflicts with what investigators determined.
“They still want to stick to ‘he had a gun and wouldn’t put it down, so we had to shoot him,'” she said.
Vernon Percy Howard Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City and senior pastor at St. Mark Union Church in Kansas City, said federal intervention is needed so that the truth can come out.
“We are determined that Kansas City will not be a city where young, unarmed black men can be killed unjustifiably and nobody says a word about it and nobody is brought to justice,” he said.
Police deemed the shooting reasonable because Stokes was fleeing from police officers and Thompson believed he saw a gun in Stokes’ hand. A grand jury declined to indict Thompson in the case.
Stokes-James filed a wrongful death lawsuit in July in federal court seeking unspecified damages. Her son’s 4-year-old daughter, Neriah, is included as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com