Jackson County prosecutors to review case of Independence police officer punching man

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Jackson County prosecutors plan to review a 2020 incident during which an Independence police officer punched a man twice during an arrest outside a grocery store.

The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday it planned to do an initial review of the incident, which was captured on surveillance video. The City of Independence recently paid out a settlement of more than $82,000 for the man without a lawsuit being filed.

The Jackson County prosecutors’ use of force committee could review the case in the future, but an initial review will occur first, spokesman Mike Mansur said in an email.

The incident occurred on Feb. 1, 2020, when the man entered a Price Chopper store at 4201 South Noland Road and told a manager that someone was trying to kill him.

After two police officers responded and the man exited the store, an altercation occurred. One officer, David Wehlermann, struck the man twice while arresting him. The first strike appeared targeted to the man’s chest and the second at his face.

The Star is not naming the man because he was experiencing a mental health crisis and was allegedly the victim of police brutality.

In a police report, Wehlermann wrote that the man refused to follow the officers’ commands. Wehlermann “grasped” the man’s arm and “escorted him to the ground,” the report said. He does not mention the strikes.

Policing and accountability experts have told The Star that punching someone in the face to gain control of them during an arrest was generally not appropriate.

Lauren Bonds, legal director for the National Police Accountability Project, said last month that the legal settlement amount was “a pretty sizable settlement for what the officer described as a controlled takedown.”

The Star’s Katie Moore contributed to this report.

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