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Jackson County prosecutors charge man for making racist slur in incident that lead to man's death

Investigation into Jon Rone's death continues, prosecutor says
July 4 Deadly Stabbing Kansas City.png
Posted at 3:36 PM, Jul 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-19 17:32:57-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County prosecutors have charged an Independence man with making a racist slur used as part of an altercation that eventually left a man dead.

In a statement Wednesday, the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney's office charged Sean Tonkin, 36, with peace disturbance and possession of a controlled substance in connection to a July 4th incident in the 14300 block of East U.S. 40 Highway.

According to court documents filed in support of the peace disturbance and controlled substance charges, witnesses told detectives that prior to the stabbing, the man called Jon Rone, who was Black, the N-word while the pair was arguing.

Authorities had requested an arrest warrant for Tonkin because "witnesses describe the defendant using racially-charged and aggressive comments earlier in the day leading up to the incident, and immediately before and during the confrontation between the defendant and the victim," according to court documents.

Tonkin was arrested roughly 30 minutes after the incident at a home in Independence after police matched a suspect description to Tonkin.

"The defendant, who remains in today in custody, used highly disturbing racial slurs during this incident," the prosecutor's office said in a release Wednesday. "We vigorously and categorically condemn that language and its usage in any circumstance."

While the incident eventually led to the deadly stabbing of 41-year-old Rone, prosecutors say they are still reviewing evidence in the case to determine what, if any additional charges could be filed against Tonkin.

"Our community is rightfully angered by the disturbing racial comments of the defendant," the prosecutor's office said. "The investigation continues into the fatal stabbing of Jon Rone by the defendant. That investigation must examine who started the incident, what weapons were used by the people involved and Missouri's law on self-defense."

Should the United States Department of Justice take up the case, Jackson County prosecutors say they are "ready and willing" to provide assistance for possible federal charges.

"On behalf of all law enforcement partners, we wish to convey our condolences to the family of Mr. Rone," the prosecutor's office said. "We will continue to review this matter and add additional charges that are supported by Missouri law."