Two Kansas City police officers accused in three police brutality claims were also responsible for shooting a man in 2019, a newly obtained police department report shows.
In January 2019, Matthew G. Brummett and Charles W. Prichard shot a man while responding to a carjacking in Westport. In a use of force report created by the Kansas City Police Department after the incident and obtained last week, police said one of the officers shot the man during a struggle after he reached for one of the officer’s gun. No charges were filed against the officers, and the man survived.
The shooting came just months before Brummett and Prichard were accused of excessive force in three separate beatings that year, including one that resulted in charges against both officers. The pair are charged with assault for allegedly slamming a woman’s head into the pavement during an arrest in May 2019.
The two officers are also the subject of four lawsuits stemming from the three beatings. The man shot in the Westport incident and the three people who said they were beaten by Brummett and Prichard were all Black. Both officers are white.
Community leaders said the events show a pattern of misconduct that is allowed from the top echelons of the department.
Sheryl Ferguson, an organizer with It’s Time 4 Justice, said the two officers have been “inflicting terror on our Black communities.” She blamed Police Chief Rick Smith, the Board of Police Commissioners and the state’s officer licensing agency for not holding the officers accountable.
“No officer after this series of misconduct, and not only misconduct but we’re talking about criminal behavior being indicted on, no officer should be able to continue to reap the benefits or maintain status as officers,” said the Rev. Vernon Howard, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City.
“This is totally unacceptable.”
Brummett and Prichard were placed on administrative assignment when they were indicted in May 2020 in the assault case. They have been on non-law enforcement administrative duty since.
The Kansas City Police Department did not answer questions last week about the officers or respond to allegations that the officers engaged in a pattern of misconduct.
An attorney representing Brummett and Prichard did not return phone calls seeking comment.
On Jan. 6, 2019, Brummett, 38, and Prichard, 48, responded to a report of an armed robbery near a church at 3953 Walnut Street.
As they were canvassing the area, they encountered 32-year-old James Bullock.
Bullock ran into a parking lot, where the two officers tried to arrest him.
Police said that, during the struggle, Bullock tried to grab one of the officer’s gun. The second officer shot Bullock. The report does not specify which officer fired his gun. Patrol officers did not have body cameras until April of this year. The two officers were placed on administrative leave, as is standard procedure.
At the time, The Star reported Bullock was hospitalized in stable condition. No other details of his injuries were available. He was charged in Jackson County Circuit Court with attempted robbery, attempted stealing and resisting arrest.
He pleaded guilty in April 2020 and is currently on probation with a suspended execution of sentence.
Attempts to reach Bullock by phone and at an address listed for him in court records were not successful. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office did not answer question about the shooting last week.
Notable Event Review Panel
On March 5, more than two years after the shooting, the incident was examined by the police department’s Notable Event Review Panel.
The panel is comprised of high-ranking police officials, including Smith, deputy chiefs, majors and commanders among others. Department policy calls for the panel to be convened for major use of force incidents to identify potential training or policy changes.
The panel’s report enters the public record of the shooting along with the police report, the investigative case file and the charging documents filed against Bullock.
The panel’s two-page report summarizes the shooting by Brummett and Prichard in six sentences. No policy or training recommendations were made. In an area dedicated to comments, the report reads “None.”
In the police department’s most recent 45 panel reports, nine training recommendations and no policy recommendations were noted.
The January shooting was followed by a series of violent incidents involving Brummett and Prichard in 2019.
The year before, they had been among six officers awarded with the department’s Medal of Valor.
On May 24, 2019, the pair responded to a disturbance at Beauty Essence, Barber and Beauty Supply Store at 1319 Brush Creek Parkway.
Brummett met with Breona Hill, who was standing outside the store, while Prichard spoke to the owner, who told police he called 911 to have Hill removed after a dispute. Prichard exited the shop and told Hill she was under arrest.
A passerby witnessed part of the encounter and recorded it on his cellphone.
The video shows Hill lying face down on the concrete while at least one of the officers is kneeling on her back while trying to place her hands behind her back. Court records said Brummett is then shown slamming Hill’s face onto the concrete two times before dropping his knee and a portion of his body weight on her neck or shoulder area.
The video goes on to show Brummett stepping on Hill’s hip as Prichard pulls her hands upward.
A grand jury indicted Brummett and Prichard for misdemeanor assault which was later upgraded to felony assault. They have pleaded not guilty. The trial is set for Dec. 6.
Roderick Reed, the man who filmed part of the arrest, was also arrested at the scene and issued a citation for parking his vehicle in the road and failure to obey a lawful order. He was later pardoned by Mayor Quinton Lucas and went on to file a lawsuit against the two officers. The civil case is scheduled to go to trial on August 30.
Two weeks after Hill’s arrest, Brummett and Prichard beat Antwoine King while he was handcuffed, according to a lawsuit King filed. The lawsuit also alleges Prichard ran him over with his squad car and he suffered facial fractures and a broken leg.
During depositions, both officers testified that they hit King with the car. They “attempted to use our vehicle to nudge him, to have him fall over or something,” Brummett said.
Two months after that, in August 2019, the two officers beat community activist Troy Robertson while he was handcuffed, according to another lawsuit filed this year.
Robertson alleged that he was at East 59th Street and Prospect Avenue holding a sign that said “Honk for JJ” when Brummett and Prichard stopped at a red light.
Robertson approached their car and asked them to honk in support. After telling him to get out of the street, the officers got out of the car, threw him on the hood, handcuffed him and struck him several times while he was on the ground, the lawsuit said.
Robertson alleges he was injured so badly that he now suffers from seizures and post-traumatic stress.
A witness, Brittani Owens, said she was with Robertson and a handful of others holding signs and trying to raise awareness about the death of her brother’s friend. When officers tried to arrest Robertson, she said, he put his hands behind his back but the officers started hitting him and kneeing him.
The officers are further accused of harassing Robertson several times since 2015.
Community leaders in Kansas City said the actions of the two officers point to larger problems.
Howard, with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said the series of incidents illustrates a lack of accountability and transparency in the police department. He and others have repeatedly called for Smith to resign.
“This is a further example of the ineffectiveness, the failure actually of Chief Smith, to hold officers accountable who engage in brutality against Black and brown people in Kansas City,” Howard said.
Ken Novak, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said excessive force complaints can erode the public’s confidence in the police. When that happens, people are less willing to come forward as victims or witnesses.
“Noncooperation makes it difficult to investigate and prosecute crimes, leading to more distrust,” Novak said. “And the cycle continues.”
Lora McDonald, executive director of MORE2, a local social justice organization, said the culture of the department “is protect the officer.”
“The very most disturbing thing is this patterned abuse at the hands of officers,” she said, adding that she believes racism plays a role.
Ferguson, with It’s Time 4 Justice, said Smith has continually covered for bad cops. Of Brummett and Prichard’s history, she said, “It’s dumbfounding the way we don’t see this as a problem.”
“Even if you don’t care about Black communities, you should care about green. And that means that this is affecting tax dollars.”
The police department has paid out millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements from excessive force complaints, including $725,000 for the beating of a teenager by police officer Matthew Neal.
A Jackson County grand jury indicted Neal on a charge of felony assault. The criminal trial is scheduled for Nov. 15.
Two other KCPD officers have pending criminal cases. Erik J. DeValkenaere was indicted for first-degree manslaughter in the December 2019 killing of Cameron Lamb. The detective’s trial is set for Sept. 7.
Nicholas McQuillen faces a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly pepper spraying a man and his teenage daughter at a protest against police brutality last summer. His next court appearance will take place July 29.
Star reporter Glenn E. Rice contributed to this report.