Teen witnessed Kansas City police shooting from just feet away at gas station Sunday

·4 min read

Editor’s note: After the story published, the 17-year-old’s mother requested that her son’s name be removed. As a courtesy, because the child is a minor, The Star agreed.

A 17-year-old pulled up to the gas station on Prospect Avenue, near East 55th Street, Sunday night shortly before 9:45 p.m. His 15-year-old girlfriend, 9-year-old brother and 5-year-old nephew were with him.

Moments later, they would be some of the youngest witnesses to a fatal police shooting just feet away.

The Independence teen first noticed a man in a “green Jeep-type truck” pull up in front of the gas station’s convenience store. The teen walked in and out of the store, he said, and the man in the vehicle did the same, coming out shortly after.

That’s when the teen, who was getting into his truck at the time, heard members of the Kansas City Police Department tell the man not to get into his vehicle.

“He didn’t listen and then he started the car,” the 17-year-old told The Star on Monday.

The teen said the man then put his car in reverse and started driving toward him while he was parked at a gas pump. When the man didn’t appear to be slowing down, the teen got out of the front seat and ran around the back to hide as he saw the man continue driving.

“He hit the police van and after he hit the police van, kept going toward the officers,” the teen said. “And all the officers just started shooting at him, and then they killed him.”

He remembered hearing 15 to 16 gunshots, adding that it appeared seven or eight officers had their guns drawn.

“After one started shooting at him, they all started shooting at him,” he said.

The man’s vehicle then crashed into a pole, said the teen, who noticed what looked like a bullet wound in the man’s forehead.

Kansas City police officers were involved in a shooting Sunday night near 55th and Prospect.
Kansas City police officers were involved in a shooting Sunday night near 55th and Prospect.

From his vantage point, about five feet from where the shooting unfolded, the 17-year-old saw officers immediately pull the man from his car, pull off his shirt and administer CPR.

He didn’t see anyone else in the man’s vehicle.

He told the two youngest kids with him that the loud pops were just fireworks. He didn’t want to tell them what actually happened. His girlfriend started crying.

Missouri State Highway Patrol investigates

While police have not yet publicly identified the gender, age or name of the person killed, they told media gathered at the scene in the hours after the shooting that the person killed was driving a stolen vehicle.

Police approached the vehicle to investigate, said Sgt. Bill Lowe, a Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman.

“He came out, he then got in the vehicle, proceeded to back up and when he turned around, he turned around and sped directly towards one of the officers that was outside his vehicle,” Lowe said.

“At that point in time the officer dove out of the way and the suspect vehicle struck the van, the Kansas City Police Department van. At that time, that’s when the shots were fired.”

The shooting is under investigation by the highway patrol, which handles Kansas City police shootings by agreement with the KCPD.

Video from the gas station and police body camera footage is being reviewed as part of the investigation, Lowe said, adding that authorities also interviewed witnesses, including children who were present at the time of the shooting.

No information was immediately available on how many officers fired their weapons or how many times they fired their weapons.

This was the third fatal police shooting involving Kansas City police this year.

The teen said officers asked him and the other children to sit in the back parking lot for what felt like an hour before moving them to a patrol vehicle where they spoke with a detective. It looked to him like several adults were gathered inside the gas station as witnesses, too.

The 17-year-old’s mother, who waited outside the police tape for him well into the early hours of Monday morning, said her son was shaken up from the shooting.

The teen said he first worried he was in danger when the vehicle started coming toward him. Then came all the gunshots from what seemed to be just feet away.

A man who said he was in the area Sunday night said he heard about 16 shots. Another person who watched from outside the police tape late Sunday told The Star he heard “a lot” of gunshots.

“I didn’t get why they had to shoot him so many times,” the teen said Monday.

By the time the person was taken away in an ambulance, “we could tell he was dead,” he said. “His head was slumped over.”

Police later said the person was pronounced dead at the hospital.