Family of firefighter killed by off-duty cop files suit against officer, hotel

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The family of a firefighter shot in downtown Kansas City last December has filed a wrongful death suit in Jackson County court.

Anthony Bruno's wife, Stephanie and parents have filed the suit against off-duty Kansas City Police Officer Donald Hubbard, Marriott International and the Kansas City Downtown Hotel Group LLC.

On the night of November 30th, 2013, Anthony Bruno and his wife, Stephanie, were celebrating their wedding with family and friends at Town Pavillion. When the party ended there, a smaller party of close friends moved to Anthony’s restaurant to continue the celebration.

A few hours later, Anthony and Stephanie Bruno along with Anthony’s cousin, took a cab back to the Marriott Muehlebach on 12th Street. The cab waited with the clock running as the Brunos decided how to get Anthony’s cousin back to his home north of the river. The cabbie and the Brunos ended up getting into heated argument over the cab fare. Stephanie Bruno says she remembers the cabbie calling her an inappropriate name and her husband punching him.

Surveillance video released by Kansas City police from outside the Muehlebach shows Bruno punching the cab driver several times. A crowd gathers as other taxi cab drivers come to the scene. Bruno walks first into the lobby of the hotel and then out the doors and down the alley way near the hotel.

The surveillance video goes on to show off-duty officer Donald Hubbard, who was working security at the hotel, arrive on the scene. He appears to speak briefly to the parties at the scene then walks toward the alley way.

The suit alleges that Hubbard shouldn’t have pursued Bruno because he was off duty and did not witness the fight. It also alleges that Hubbard did not have with him key pieces of police gear including his police radio, his stun gun, his baton or pepper spray all, the suit says, could have been used to subdue Bruno.

The suit goes on to document a key piece of video obtained first by 41 Action News which was previously not released among video distributed by Kansas City police after a grand jury declined to file charges against Hubbard. The video, taken by cameras outside One Kansas City place, shows Hubbard encountering Bruno and immediately taking hold of him and forcing him to the ground.

Attorneys for the Bruno family also believe that video shows the other side of how this situation escalated unnecessarily. They believe in that video you can see Hubbard kicking Bruno four times. Attorneys believe that is supported by the fact a passerby took out his cell phone to start recording. At the beginning of that video, Bruno can be heard asking why the cop is hitting him and why can’t he just be nice.

In that cell phone video, Hubbard demands Bruno’s arms, but Bruno protests saying that he will fall on his face if he gives him his other hand. The suit says Hubbard then knees Bruno in the back of the head.

All of this happens before Bruno flips Hubbard on his back and starts punching him. That’s when Hubbard took out his gun and shot Bruno two times.

Bruno died minutes later.

The suit also points out another incident where attorneys believe Hubbard committed an unprovoked attack. It happened on June 9, 2013 where a motorcyclist doing stunts crashed into the back of Hubbard’s patrol car.

During questioning, Hubbard told the investigating officer that the driver of the motorcycle had tried to escape. However, in video obtained by 41 Action news from the GoPro on that motorcyclist’s head, you can see Hubbard exit the vehicle and charge the driver as the driver is surrendering.

The wrongful death suit filed against Hubbard, Marriott International, and the Kansas City Downtown Hotel Group LLC in Jackson County court alleges that the hotel was negligent in hiring, training and supervising Hubbard.

In addition, it alleges Hubbard used excessive force and was careless in not bringing his radio, stun gun, baton or pepper spray.

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