KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two former Kansas City, Missouri, police officers who were charged with assaulting Brianna Hill, a transgender woman, during an arrest caught on video in 2019 pleaded guilty Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Charles Prichard and Matthew Brummett were sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and also must surrender their peace officers' license under terms of the plea. Neither can serve in law enforcement in Missouri again.
Both former officers pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a Class E felony.
Brummett and Prichard also are barred from possessing guns while on probation and prohibited from having contact with the family of the victim, Brianna Hill, the judge ruled.
If Prichard or Brummett violate the terms of their probation, they would be subject to up to a four-year prison sentence.
Hill's aunt was not able to be in court Monday, but submitted a statement that was read before the judge. It said she was loved and, though she was subject to harassment and discrimination in her life, "her goodness shined through."
The statement also said that the officers' assault of Hill exposed the "institutional cover-up by the Kansas City police department" and, if Hill could, she would be there.
Kris Wade, director of The Justice Project Kansas City, said they'd been working with Hill and providing services to her for the last 15-plus years.
Wade said Hill was witty and intelligent, and was determined to make it out of the streets, although she was met with a world who marginalized folks like her.
"I know a lot of folks in the LGBTQI community wish they'd have gotten a stiffer sentence," Wade said after the hearing. "And I can understand their feeling on that. I think it was fair and I think it was the best we could hope for under these circumstances."
Wade said what happened to Hill was indicative of what happens to trans women of color as a whole.
"Trans women of color literally are in danger the second they walk out of their house," Wade said. "We've had so many trans women on our caseload murdered. Brianna was just one of many."
Madeline Johnson, a Kansas City attorney who mainly takes on discrimination cases against the LGTBQ community, also gave a statement. She is also a trans woman.
Johnson said Hill's "senseless beating" should never be allowed, and that trans women are worthy of equal protection as everyone else.
KCPD interim Chief of Police Joseph Mabin released a statement on the pleas.
"I expect our officers to treat all those they come into contact with on a daily basis with dignity and respect," Mabin said in a statement. "The officers’ actions that day did not meet those expectations. They were unacceptable, will not be condoned, and will not be tolerated. I want to strongly reiterate if any member of the community has a concern regarding our members' conduct, please contact the Office of Community Complaints."
We respect the outcome of the judicial process. Mr. Prichard and Mr. Brummett have not been employed by the Kansas City Missouri Police Department since 2021.
Initially, Brummett and Prichard were charged with fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, in May 2020 after the video surfaced, which appeared to show the two officers “acting purposefully in concert with each other” to “recklessly” injure Hill, according to the indictment.
The incident took place May 24, 2019, outside a beauty shop in the 1300 block of Brush Creek Boulevard.
Hill had gotten into an argument and called 911. She then got into an argument with the store owner, who also called police and asked for Hill to be removed, the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said in announcing the charges.
Brummett and Prichard were placed on administrative duty after the charges were filed.
The officers initially claimed that Hill, who was subsequently shot to death in an unrelated incident in the 4300 block of Hardesty Avenue in October 2019, had resisted arrest, but a video shot by passer-by Roderick Reed painted a different picture.
The video showed the officers “slamming her face against the concrete sidewalk; kneeing her in the face, torso and ribs; and forcefully bending her arms over her head while her hands were handcuffed and she was laying on her stomach,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Brummett and Prichard originally cited Reed for stopping his vehicle in the street to film the encounter. He was pardoned by Mayor Quinton Lucas and the charges were later dismissed, but Reed filed a multi-million lawsuit against the city and the officers.
Reed was at the plea hearing and told KSHB 41 News he's glad to see justice for Hill.
"It means a lot 'cause we have been through a lot and glad we finally got some closure. It's been a big ordeal," Reed said after the hearing.
A Jackson County grand jury indicted Brummett and Prichard in July 2020 for assault, upgrading the charges from a misdemeanor to a felony.
The case against Brummett and Prichard helped lay bare friction between Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker’s office and retired KCPD Chief of Police Rick Smith.
Baker accused KCPD of stonewalling her office, refusing to provide documents it requested in the case and other cases involving the conduct of officers.
The incident prompted Lucas to introduce new oversight measures in his role as a member of the KCPD Board of Police Commissioners.
Brummett and Prichard are the second and third KCPD to plead guilty to assaulting a citizen in the last three weeks.
Former Sgt. Matthew Neal pleaded guilty Oct. 27 to assaulting a teenager in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in 2019.
Neal was sentenced to probation and surrendered his Peace Officer Standards and Training license among the terms of his plea agreement.
When Neal was charged and again when Brummett and Prichard were charged, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 99, the union that represents KCPD, issued statements defending the officers’ action and saying they expected the officers to be “exonerated” in court.
The FOP did not respond to a request for comment when Neal pleaded guilty and declined to provide a statement Monday when asked about Prichard and Brummett's plea agreements.
For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.