KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced Friday that a fatal shooting involving Lenexa police in May was justified.
The shooting left 34-year-old Darren Dejuan Chandler, of Nashville, Tennessee, dead.
During a press conference Friday morning, Howe joined Lenexa Police Chief Dawn Layman to present edited body camera video of the incident.
Audio from the dispatch call was also played at the conference.
Around 5 a.m., the caller reported a domestic disturbance and said they could hear a man screaming at a woman and also told dispatchers, "I'm pretty sure I heard him smack her at least once."
The body camera footage showed that around 5:03 a.m., officers arrived at the Extended Stay Hotel and later arrived at the door of the room where Chandler and his girlfriend were staying.
The video then showed officers approaching the door and knocking on it, yelling "police." Officers could be heard telling the occupants of the room to open the door, and Chandler could be heard asking, "What's going on?"
After no one opens the door, officer used a hotel key to attempt to get in. Video showed officers kick the door open and gun shots were fired, forcing the officers to retreat and take cover.
According to a presentation Howe gave as part of evidence, Chandler gained ground on the officers after they retreated and that's when officers fired back at Chandler, killing him.
“You can actually see the gunpowder, the discharge out of the firearm, which I think helped confirm for the investigators and for our office that, in fact, he was the first one to shoot in that sequence and then the officers as they were falling backwards then return fire," Howe said.
Howe's report also showed officers did not have a warrant and were not invited inside the room. But under Kansas law, officers had a right to enter the room because immediate action was required.
“The officers all reported in their interview that they were concerned with the victim's safety," Howe said. "She stopped making sounds and [they] were concerned for her welfare."
The woman suffered injuries from Chandler, who had been trying to strangle her, Howe said.
Michael Tabman, a former police officer and FBI special agent, said domestic violence situations usually are the most dangerous for police officers and that, in this case, the use of deadly force was justified.
"If you watch the video, it certainly appears that the subject fired first. He was ready," Tabman said. "The officers had no choice but to return fire. If you point a gun at a police officer, you’re going to be shot."
The officers involved in the shooting were not injured, but are on modified duty and receiving counseling because of the incident.
“Just watching it here again today, makes my heart pump very fast," Layman said. "[We're] very lucky that we didn’t lose at least two officers in that situation."
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