KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When Kansas City police officers found Jovan Belcher passed out in his Bentley hours before committing a murder-suicide, did he get special treatment? From parking in a no-parking zone at 3 a.m. to officers saying "we're trying to cut you a break," a local attorney says the encounter deserves scrutiny.
Neighbors called about a suspicious car sitting outside of a Hyde Park apartment building in the early morning hours of Dec. 1. Police found Belcher parked in a no-parking zone -- just one of the reasons attorney Chris Kopecky said police usually investigate if a driver has been drinking.
"Your car is running and you're passed out inside of it," police can be heard saying in dash cam video.
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"When you use the word 'passed out', it certainly that suggests that the officer might think that alcohol was a factor," Kopecky said. Several of his clients have been charged with drunk driving even when their car was parked off the road in a gas station or a parking lot.
Missouri statues state a person must simply be operating a motor vehicle, not that the vehicle must be in motion.
"So long as the keys are in the ignition, and they're sitting in the driver's seat," Kopecky explained.
When Belcher told officers he was waiting for a girlfriend, he wasn't talking about the mother of his child, Kasandra Perkins. Five hours later, police say he shot and killed Perkins before killing himself.
No one will ever know if anything could have prevented that, but it makes it no less chilling to hear that at 3 a.m., Belcher told police he can't go upstairs into the building he's parked in front because, "I gotta go deal with my other girl."
In the dash cam video, police continue to make sure he isn't driving elsewhere that night. According to Kopecky, that's another indicator they were concerned he might be intoxicated.
When Belcher insisted he needed to leave, one officer said, "We're trying to cut you a break."
A Kansas City Police spokesperson said that doesn't insinuate special treatment, but instead is a common phrase officers use to build cooperation with someone.
"That's not typical conversation," he said. Dash cam video never shows officers performing any field sobriety tests.
The KCPD said it's up to the discretion of the officer whether a driver needs to be tested, and the officers that night did not believe Belcher did.
Retired officer Pete Edlund said the officers were not treating Belcher differently because he was a Chiefs player.
"We give people all kinds of breaks, all the time, every day, every night. I did it for 40 years," Edlund said. "These officers have done it over and over again to somebody who is not a Kansas City Chief or a Royal or a soccer player. They do it to just Joe Schmoe citizens."
Kopecky say the break given to Belcher is very unusual.
"Ninety percent of the time, I would suspect that somebody would not get out of it," Kopecky said.
"If some citizen was doing the same thing that Jovan Belcher was doing, (the officers) would have done the exact same thing. I'll bet you 100 bucks," Edlund said.
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