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Family of man killed during Independence police pursuit files lawsuit against city, officers

Posted at 4:44 PM, Nov 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-15 17:44:24-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The family of man killed in an Independence police pursuit in March 2023 filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Independence and the police officers involved in the pursuit.

Jake Monteer, 41, and Jessica Fields, 42, died after Melvin Brown rammed into them at Scott Avenue and Winner Road while fleeing from police.

Brown was later charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Monteer, who was driving a motorcycle, and Fields, who was riding with him. Both were innocent bystanders.

The lawsuit alleges that the four officers involved in the March 22 pursuit were negligent among other things.

According to the lawsuit, one of the officers spotted a stolen Jeep parked in the driveway of a home.

Brown later entered the Jeep and the police officer began following him before an pursuit was initiated.

The lawsuit claims the officers should've taken steps to prevent the Jeep from leaving in the first place, such as blocking the Jeep or placing a device under the tire to prevent it from leaving.

As the pursuit, which took place at night, continued through the streets of Independence, Brown went off the road and onto railroad tracks in the area around West Walnut Street and South Claremont Avenue.

The officer who was chasing him got out of the vehicle and prepared to pursue Brown on foot but he continued driving.

A second officer spotted Brown and continued chasing him at a high rate of speed, according to the lawsuit.

That officer lost sight of Brown but a third officer spotted him and continued chasing him while radioing misleading rates of speed, the lawsuit alleges.

The chase continued until Brown hit stop sticks that were "negligently" placed at the intersection of Scott Avenue and Winner Road.

This caused Brown to lose control and hit Monteer's motorcycle, killing him and Fields.

The lawsuit said that a police report filed by the officers involved omitted that stop sticks were used. It also alleges that no photographs were taken at the scene and no witnesses were interviewed.

Monteer's parents claim in the lawsuit that such measures were taken to cover up the use of the stop sticks.

They're suing all four officers and the city for two claims of negligence about the way the chase was handled.

In addition, they're also suing the city for a third count of negligence for failing to properly train, supervise and instruct its employees.

KSHB 41 News received the following statement from the city of Independence on the lawsuit:

For the Independence Police Department, the safety of the public is always the highest priority. Any loss of life is tragic, but the death of an innocent bystander weighs heavily on all of us. We are aware that a lawsuit has been filed by the Monteer family, but neither the officers nor the City have been served.
Meg Lewis, spokeswoman for city of Independence