Kansas City advances measure to protect recording police
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City officials have advanced a measure meant to protect people who record police interactions with the public even if they're ordered by officers to stop.
The move follows the conviction of a man who recorded the violent arrest last year of a transgender woman by Kansas City officers who have since been charged with assault in the arrest. Roderick Reed, 52, recorded of the arrest — video that was key to indicting the officers, the Kansas City Star reported. But police ticketed Reed on a misdemeanor count of failing to obey a lawful order because he refused when the now-charged officers told him to stop recording and leave.
Reed was convicted in municipal court was sentenced to 30 days in jail for the misdemeanor. He remains free during his appeal. A public phone listing for Reed could not be found Thursday, and the newspaper reported that Reed's attorney did not immediately return its request for comment.
The City Council's Finance, Governance and Public Safety committee voted unanimously Wednesday to advance and fast-track a proposed measure that would amend the city's ordinance on lawfully obey police orders. The amendment would clarify that the law would not include any order that hinders witnessing or documenting the actions of officers.
"The purpose of this amendment … is to make it crystal clear that such is not a lawful order for the police to give and that our citizens cannot be prosecuted for stopping either just to observe or to observe and film activities by the police that are going on in the public realm," Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said.
Police have insisted that Reed was not ticketed for recording officers but for initially refusing to move his car, which he had stopped in the street to record the officers.
Councilman Lee Barnes doesn't buy that explanation.
"That is crazy, particularly in this instance — in an instance when the filming resulted in the officers getting arrested," Barnes said at Wednesday's meeting.
Reed's legal battle and the effort by Kansas City officials to protect the public's right to witness and document police actions come as cities across the U.S. have been roiled by protests and civil unrest following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Three police officers held down Floyd, who was black — including one who pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly 10 minutes.
The two officers were indicted last month by a grand jury on assault charges after being seen on Reed's video of twice slamming a transgender woman's face into a concrete sidewalk as they were handcuffing her. Prosecutors say a grand jury indicted 37-year-old Matthew Brummett and 47-year-old Charles Prichard on one misdemeanor charge each of fourth-degree assault related to the May 24, 2019, physical encounter.
The incident happened outside a beauty supply store following an argument in the store. The video also shows the officers kneeing the woman in the face, torso and ribs and forcing her arms over her head while handcuffed. The woman was black; the officers are white.
Brummett and Prichard maintain that they used reasonable force in the arrest.
The woman has since died after being shot in October at a Kansas City home, and a man has been charged in her death. She went by various first names, including Brianna or Brionna, Bebe, and Briya. Her surname was Hill.