A new body cam video is alleged to disprove Kansas police accounts of the shooting death of 42-year-old Steven Myers. His widow is now asking the courts to release the footage and the audio recordings of the encounter. The attorney says it proves the husband complied with police and that he was unarmed when he was shot.
The attorney, Michael Kuckelman, said the recordings of the Sun City encounter on December 6th should be seen by the public. According to the attorney, the encounter resulted in the death of Myers and that it could have been prevented.
Reports indicate that Barber County Sheriff’s deputies were responding to a call about a man with a gun threatening people outside of a bar. The suspect fled the scene before police arrived. Deputies conducted a search of the area and found Myers hiding in a shed says the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI).
In a press release issued by the KBI the day of the incident initial information indicated that Myers was uncooperative with the verbal commands given by authorities. He was then shot with a bean bag round which ended up killing him. According to the attorney, the video footage clearly shows Myers complying with orders contradicting official accounts by the police.
Kuckelman said the Barber County sheriff agreed to allow him to see the body cam video as counsel to the family.
“No one would know exactly what happened that night if not for the video being seen and we need to show that to the public,” said his widow, Kristina Myers. “Our elected officials need to be held accountable for the wrongs that they do just like regular citizens are.”
Myers’ family is also attempting to have a law passed that prevents police and other law enforcement agencies from barring release of video and audio recordings of police involved shootings. According to Kansas law body cam video and other recordings are considered “criminal investigation recordings” which generally are not required to be disclosed to the public. It is up to the court to decide to disclose them should the court feel that the recordings are in public interest, an unfairly high standard of measure to meet said the attorney.
Seattle PI reports:
The video captures Barber County Sheriff Lonnie Small telling Undersheriff Virgil “Dusty” Brewer just minutes before Myers was shot that with “a little luck and he’ll just pass out and die,” Kuckelman said.
Once officers find him, it takes just eight seconds for Steven Myers to leave the shed once the sheriff orders him out, the attorney said. Myers then stands on the sidewalk — in plain sight and unarmed.
After Barber County Sheriff Lonnie Small and his dog turn around and walk away from the scene, multiple deputies shout inconsistent instructions before Brewer shoots Myers with a bean bag round, Kuckelman said.
A property owner who witnessed the shooting reportedly yelled “God damn, that was a little drastic wasn’t it!” said the court filing. Brewer turned scornfully on the witness threatening to have him arrested for interference and ordered him off his property.
Another deputy attempted to revive Myers but it was too late. A shotgun was later recovered in a house.
“We are disturbed that after they killed Steven Myers you can hear the sheriff telling the deputy to disable his body camera. We are troubled that the sheriff’s own body camera was disabled soon after the shooting,” Kuckelman said. “The reason they disabled their cameras is because they now understand the investigation is of one of their own.”
When pressed for comments on the body cam’s revelations the sheriff’s office had nothing to say. The KBI stood by their initial statement reiterating that the press release was based off of initial information from police.
“It does not represent the totality of our investigation or impact how we proceed with review of evidence,” said KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood. “We always conduct a very thorough and independent investigation into what occurred.”
“The undersheriff shot and killed my husband for no reason,” said Myers’ widow. She has not seen the video but she wants to see justice served. She is also wanting to keep something like this from happening to anyone else.
In Topeka, attorneys for the family of Dominique White, a 30-year-old man shot by two police officers on Sept. 28, have also called for the footage to be made public. The city has refused to identify the officers who shot him or release the video to the family and attorney. They contend it can only release it to an adult administrator of White’s estate which has yet to be appointed.
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