Archive for Wednesday, November 27, 2002

KC deadly-force use under review

November 27, 2002

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— The Kansas City Police Department, which has seen its officers fatally shoot two suspects this month, is trying a new approach in dealing with mentally ill people.

The Board of Police Commissioners is also reviewing the department's deadly force policy.

One of the two men killed was mentally ill, his parents said; the other was a drug suspect.

The parents of the mentally ill man, Aaron Dougherty, said officers didn't have to shoot him eight times during a disturbance at their home Nov. 11. Police said they also regret the death but that Dougherty, 26, gave them no choice; he was armed with two knives and moving toward the officers.

Four days later, an officer fatally shot a suspect fleeing the scene of a drug raid.

In the chase, police said, the suspect turned and pointed a gun at an officer. The officer fired eight shots at Deric D. Mitchell, 21, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

"Two shootings in one week is something that gets our attention," Board President Stacey Daniels-Young said. "We're not ignoring it."

Daniels-Young said she had requested presentations at Tuesday's board meeting on past police shootings as well as how officers are trained to use deadly force.

"We want to see if there are any new technologies we can use, and just make sure our policies are current," she said.

Board member Karl Zobrist also requested the review.

"I think our policy meets legal and professional standards," he said. "But it's always a good practice to review policies, especially when you have two deaths in one week."

Kansas City officers have fatally shot four people so far this year and wounded three. Last year officers fatally shot five people and wounded eight.

Kansas City's policy allows police to use deadly force to protect themselves or others from an imminent threat of death or serious injury. It also permits lethal force to prevent the escape of a suspect.

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