WRITER: Mackenzie Clark

Suspect shot by law enforcement in Lawrence Monday was wanted in connection with Omaha homicide

Story updated at 12:25 p.m. Tuesday A man fatally shot by law enforcement Monday afternoon in Lawrence has been identified as Nicholas Ryan Hirsh, 31, a homicide suspect from Nebraska, according to Omaha, Neb., police. Omaha police officers had responded to a shooting call just after noon Thursday, June 11, and found a male victim dead inside an apartment, according to a news release from OPD. The victim was ...

A rundown of how Lawrence police can and cannot use their body cameras and how the public can record police interactions

Law enforcement has come under new scrutiny nationwide after George Floyd died May 25 in Minneapolis, Minn., after ex-officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck in the street for nearly nine minutes. Usage of body-worn cameras — and failure to capture some incidents — has been one topic of concern. Chauvin and three other Minneapolis officers were wearing body cameras; however, that kind of ...

Police shoot, kill man wanted by U.S. Marshals after chase into Lawrence

Story updated at 7:20 p.m. Monday: Law enforcement officers shot and killed a suspect following a car chase that ended in Lawrence around 3:30 p.m. Monday. The suspect, a white man, was sought by U.S. Marshals, Kansas Highway Patrol Technical Trooper Don Hughes said at the scene. KHP officers located the suspect in Jefferson County and followed him into Lawrence, where KHP officers backed off and slowed down. ...

Rontarus Washington Jr., jailed 5 years on suspicion of Lawrence murder, to receive new bond hearing; defense alleges misconduct by state

Updated at 2:58 p.m. Friday After being held in custody for about five years and three months on $750,000 bond, Rontarus Washington Jr., 23, will soon receive a new bail hearing. Washington was arrested in early 2015 and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated burglary in connection with the November 2014 death of his 19-year-old neighbor, Justina Altamirano Mosso. He has been awaiting a second trial ...

Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern to retire early; he says 'it's been fun for 39 years'

When one cabinet door closes, another opens. That may not be exactly how the old adage goes, but it is how Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern embarked on a long career in law enforcement that is now winding to a close. McGovern had been working for a cabinet company that closed in March of 1982. Then-Sheriff Rex Johnson had an opening in the department, and McGovern took it. “I told myself early in that ...

Lawrence Police Department finally releases report on use of force in 2019; 17 instances cited; officers' actions found justified in all

Updated at 4:19 p.m. An internal review board found that all 17 uses of force that Lawrence police officers reported in 2019 followed department policies and procedures, according to a public summary. Two incidents that the Journal-World has reported on previously were not included in the 2019 summary, but the department provided updates on those, as well. When officers cause injury requiring medical ...

Man pleads no contest in child solicitation case from 2015

Updated at 10:53 a.m. Thursday: Five years and a month after his arrest, a man has pleaded no contest in a child solicitation case — though he noted to the judge that he maintains his innocence and does not believe a jury would have convicted him. Jonathan S. Nelson, 47, was arrested May 10, 2015, after he allegedly asked a young girl at Fuzzy’s Tacos, 1115 Massachusetts St., to accompany him into the ...

Lawrence group marches through KU coach Bill Self’s neighborhood, protesting racial disparities in college sports

Story updated at 3:51 p.m. Tuesday: A group of about 30 protesters marched through the neighborhood of University of Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self Monday evening in a demonstration against inequities and racial disparities in college athletics. Organizer Mazzy Martinez, a rising sophomore from Topeka studying strategic communications and history at KU, spoke with the Journal-World ahead of the ...

New report shows Douglas County’s disparity between black and white incarceration rates is higher than national average

Black inmates in Douglas County generally spend more time in the county jail than white inmates, and this problem is more pronounced in Douglas County than the national average, according to a new analysis presented to the local Criminal Justice Coordinating Council on Tuesday. Matt Cravens, data analyst for the CJCC, said the county’s incarceration rate for black people is about 4.7 times the white rate. ...

Douglas County sheriff candidates share views on public transparency, training against bias-based policing

Story updated at 4:49 p.m. Monday: Three candidates for Douglas County sheriff shared their thoughts recently on transparency in issues of officer misconduct and what the department needs to do to train against racial and bias-based policing. As the Aug. 4. Democratic primary approaches, the Journal-World will be discussing a number of topics with candidates for Douglas County sheriff and other offices. ...

Witnesses hesitant to come forward about people driving through crowds at Lawrence march; police say they're investigating

As videos and photos of multiple vehicles driving into or through crowds at Lawrence’s Sunday march against police brutality have circulated on social media, the Journal-World has attempted to gather more information about those incidents, to varying degrees of success. The Lawrence Police Department is also seeking more information. It appears that one of the reasons witnesses and victims in these incidents ...

Ex-Lawrence police officer seeking diversion agreement after alleged misconduct

Updated at 4:52 p.m. Wednesday A former Lawrence police officer accused of official misconduct is seeking a diversion agreement with the Douglas County district attorney’s office, court records show. David Shane Williams, 33, was placed on paid administrative leave from the Lawrence Police Department on Nov. 21, 2019, after he reportedly told detectives that he used his credentials on multiple occasions to ...

Masks of Captain America, Thor helped investigators find suspect in Haskell tipi fire, court documents say

Updated at 1:37 p.m. Tuesday: A Captain America mask reportedly found in the burnt remains of a tipi at Haskell Indian Nations University helped investigators link a suspect to the fire, according to court documents. The tipi, as the Journal-World has reported, had been put up to honor the graduating Class of 2020. A member of that class also told the newspaper the tipi was used at the beginnings of school ...

Protesters rally in Lawrence for largely peaceful march against police brutality

Protesters took to the streets Sunday evening for a largely peaceful march, Lawrence’s first major organized event following the recent death of a black man during an arrest in Minneapolis. Protests have sprouted up across the country since May 25, when George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after pleading for air while being pinned under the knee of white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the ...

City leaders concerned over missing yearly reports from police; county leaders content with alternatives to sheriff's reports

Though Lawrence city leaders showed some concern about yearly reports missing from the police department, Douglas County leaders said they believe they have the information they need about the sheriff’s office from various other reports. As the Journal-World reported May 17, the Lawrence Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office are both missing some annual reports from recent years. In ...

Overall, organizer pleased with Lawrence march against police brutality; incident involving vehicle in crowd under investigation

An organizer of the march against police brutality held in Lawrence Sunday evening said Monday that more people showed up than anticipated, and overall, it went well. “I definitely do think that we were able to accomplish the goal of letting other people, other cities know that Lawrence is in solidarity with them, as well as be able to keep that many people, as many as we had, safe and peaceful most of the ...

Lawrence Police Department’s staffing near 10-year low; turnover is up and sworn experience is down

Staffing levels at the Lawrence Police Department have dropped to about where they were 10 years ago, but in the same timeframe, the city’s population has grown significantly. In addition, rookies make up a growing proportion of LPD’s force, a review by the Journal-World has found. Sworn personnel with about 500 cumulative years of experience have left the department in just the past couple of years. ...

Lawrence police: Man who witnesses thought had handgun arrested with airsoft gun

A man was reported to be threatening people with a firearm Friday morning, but arresting officers determined that he had an airsoft pistol in his possession, according to Lawrence police. Officers were dispatched to the call at 8:33 a.m. Friday in the 1500 block of West 23rd Street, Officer Shawn Gross of the Lawrence Police Department Public Affairs Unit said via email. “The suspect pointed at several ...

Douglas County undersheriff withdraws from race for sheriff

Douglas County Undersheriff Gary Bunting has withdrawn from the race for Douglas County sheriff, he said Friday. “While I feel that I could have done an outstanding job for our community, its citizens, and our employees; health and family issues take a priority over the campaign,” Bunting said via email Friday. He is still serving as undersheriff, but he said his role in the future will have to be ...

Questions loom over $100K+ payment to outgoing Lawrence police chief, restrictions on speech

Questions are still mounting more than a week after Lawrence city leaders agreed to pay more than $100,000 to the outgoing police chief, despite no contractual obligation to do so. The Lawrence City Commission on May 19 approved an agreement to pay outgoing Lawrence Police Chief Gregory Burns Jr. a minimum of $106,805, representing nine months’ worth of his salary, as a “separation payment.” Depending on ...