Taser, firearms training expected to be raised in case of shooting by Lawrence police officer
photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office
Testimony about the Lawrence Police Department’s Taser, firearms and general use-of-force training is tentatively on the agenda in the case of an officer facing criminal charges for shooting a man.
Argument over that, however, is causing a delay in proceedings.
A preliminary hearing and immunity hearing — where the officer’s attorneys planned to argue that she acted lawfully under Kansas’ “stand your ground” law — had been scheduled for Tuesday but was canceled.
Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said he planned to present preliminary hearing testimony that may include Brindley D. Blood’s training in the use of Tasers, firearms and use of force in general. Among planned witnesses is a Lawrence police officer who does Taser training for the department.
Blood’s attorneys, Michael Riling and Thomas Bath, however, said they want a list of Branson’s witnesses and time to dispute them. Riling said they may argue that testimony is irrelevant or, if that’s not successful, argue that they should be designated as expert witnesses, which could require additional proceedings.
“Some of those witnesses walk a fine line between being an expert witness and being a lay witness,” Riling said.
Until that’s sorted out, the date for Blood’s immunity hearing and preliminary hearing, at which the court would decide whether there was enough evidence to order a trial, remains up in the air. Judge Peggy Kittel set Blood’s next hearing, to deal with witness issues, for Feb. 19.
Blood, 36, of Lawrence, is charged with with aggravated battery, a felony, for allegedly using a gun to “recklessly cause bodily harm” to Akira Lewis on May 29 in the 100 block of West Sixth Street.
Another officer, who had pulled Lewis over for a seat-belt violation, called for backup to arrest Lewis when he refused to provide his information, according to an outside law enforcement agency’s investigation of the incident, including video footage. Blood arrived, and the two officers tried unsuccessfully to physically force Lewis out of his SUV and arrest him.
When Lewis launched out of the SUV and attacked McCann, Blood shot him one time in the back. However, she announced “Taser” before firing and later told investigators she meant to draw her Taser, not realizing it was actually her gun until after she fired.
Her attorneys have asked for Blood’s criminal charge to be dismissed, saying her use of potentially deadly force was justified in defense of her fellow officer. They didn’t specifically address the Taser versus gun issue.
“It is indisputable that Akira Lewis, without provocation, violently attacked Officer Ian McCann (in fact, the State has separately charged Lewis with Battery on a law enforcement officer),” Riling and Bath wrote in a memo supporting their immunity motion. “Lewis repeatedly punched Officer McCann and then threw him to the pavement in a choke-hold. Lewis was on top of Officer McCann and continued his assault when Officer Blood, seeing that Officer McCann had potentially suffered great bodily harm and was in further danger of great bodily harm, used justified force to stop the attack.”
Lewis was taken to a hospital and recovered. His multiple pending criminal charges from the incident include misdemeanor battery on a law enforcement officer and failure to wear a seat belt.
Blood remains on paid administrative leave with the Lawrence Police Department, pending the department’s ongoing internal investigation.
Correction: A previous version of this story miscalculated the age of Brindley Blood. She was 36 at the time of this story’s publication.