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Mother of 2013 KC police shooting victim calls for further investigation

Posted: 9:31 PM, Sep 28, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-28 23:48:27-04

Civil rights leaders joined the mother of Ryan Stokes on Wednesday to call for further investigation into the police shooting death of the 24-year-old in July of 2013.

Three years ago, Stokes was shot and killed following a police pursuit near the intersection of 12th St & McGee St.

Officers responded to a call of a stolen cell phone near the Power & Light District, and soon chased after Stokes moments after arriving.

The fatal shots were fired by Officer William Thompson, who later received a commendation with his partner for their actions during the incident.

On Wednesday, Dr. Vernon Howard of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City said discrepancies with the commendation should call for another investigation into the case.

According to Howard, the officers were commended for their response after Stokes held a gun and pointed it at police.

However, Howard said witnesses later reported that Stokes threw his gun into a car moments before the shots were fired. 

Dr. Howard added that Stokes was shot in the back as he ran from officers.

On Wednesday, Dr. Howard spoke at a press conference near the area where shots were fired.

"The Kansas City Police Department and the entire community should seek to expose the truth regarding this incident," he explained, with many civil rights leaders and Stokes' mother behind him. 

Dr. Howard announced that he and the Stokes family were asking the FBI and US Attorney General's Office to look into the case for possible federal crimes and civil rights violations.

The announcement came at a time when police shootings around the country are in the spotlight.

"We have the problem right here," he said to the crowd. "We are determined that Kansas City will not be a city where a young unarmed black man can be killed."

Narene Stokes-James, the mother of Ryan Stokes, also delivered an emotional speech at the event.

Stokes-James described the pain she has lived with since the day of the shooting, and how she wanted questions answered in the case.

"They want me to sweep it under the rug, they want to be silent about it. I will not," she said. "I will fight for my baby. That was my baby boy."

Stokes-James brought up the police shootings around the country, saying her son died unjustly.

"Protect and serve is the oath they took, but they are shooting to kill," she said. "They took him away from me with no explanation.  We just can't keep letting the police take our kids away."

A vigil in honor of Stokes was held following the announcement on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday night, the FBI and US Attorney General's Office has not issued an official statement in response.

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Tom Dempsey can be reached at  Tom.Dempsey@KSHB.com.

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