KANSAS CITY, Mo. — New information revealed this week in court documents show how the manager of a Kansas City, Kansas, auto parts store confronted two shoplifters outside of the store over $73 worth of stolen paint and sandpaper.
The confrontation left one man dead.
KCK police were called around 6 p.m. on Sept. 19 to the O’Reilly Auto Parts store in the 4700 block of Parallel Parkway on a reported disturbance.
When police arrived, they were told that two suspects, identified as Diamond Steen and Keysean Perkins, both 23, had been caught by employees for stealing items from the business.
Officers said they observed Steen and Perkins on the ground with Steen having been taped, bound and zip tied. They asked an employee to cut the zip ties, bungie cords and tape that were binding Steen’s arms behind him to allow paramedics to offer treatment.
By the time EMS arrived on scene, they declared Steen dead.
An affidavit filed in the case indicated that the store’s manager at the time, Carl Kemppainen, 39, grew suspicious about the pair because he had information that two people matching the description of Steen and Perkins and their car — a white Ford Fusion — recently had allegedly shoplifted from another O’Reilly Auto Parts store.
A description of surveillance video from the store reviewed by police detectives shows Kemppainen walking toward Perkins in an aisle. A short time later, the video shows Perkins and Steen heading toward the front door of the business, “bypassing the registers and front counter.”
The video shows Kemppainen attempting to stop them before they leave, but Steen and Perkins were able to make it out of the door without paying for two paint cans, valued at $34 each, and a $4.99 package of sand paper.
Once outside of the store, surveillance video captured Kemppainen meeting the two at the Ford Fusion, where he kept closing the driver’s door to prevent Steen from entering the car and fleeing.
The video shows Kemppainen grab a key fob from a lanyard around Steen’s neck and throw it across the parking lot. When Steen attempted to retrieve the keys, the video shows Kemppainen put Steen in a chokehold.
A second employee from the store, Royal Ford, came out and spotted Perkins attempting to move from the passenger seat in the Ford Fusion to the driver’s seat, at which point Perkins exited the car.
The description of the video by detectives indicates that Perkins attempted to “calm the situation” by taking one of the stolen paint cans and placing it on the ground, after which he attempted to grab Kemppainen’s arm to release his chokehold on Steen.
During the struggle, a third employee from inside the store, who is not being named because he has not been charged, retrieved clear tape from inside the store that would be used to help restrain the shoplifters.
Around the same time, Ford had managed to wrestle Perkins to the ground, after which the third employee wrapped Perkins’ wrists while he was laying face down on the ground.
The video shows Ford stomping down on Perkins’ next and upper back. Perkins would eventually require three stitches for the laceration when his face hit the ground.
Video captured by a bystander and reviewed by police detectives shows that at some point, Steen’s body became lifeless and the manager let the body down on the ground, face down, as the manager sat on Steen’s back.
Prosecutors have charged Kemppainen with second-degree murder in connection to Steen’s death.
Ford also faces misdemeanor battery charges for injuring Perkins, who was charged with misdemeanor theft and providing law enforcement with false information, also a misdemeanor.
At a news conference announcing the charges against Kemppainen, Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree told reporters, “We do know that in this country, you still have to go to the court and someone’s life cannot be taken.”
Kemppainen posted a $125,000 bond and was able to leave the Wyandotte County Adult Detention Center last weekend.
An O’Reilly Auto Parts spokesperson provided a statement last Friday to KSHB 41 News: “O’Reilly Auto Parts is deeply disturbed by the events, death and injuries that occurred at our store in Kansas City, Kansas. We are cooperating fully with the police investigation."