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Supporters of Leonna Hale upset over KCPD's response to incident

Justice Gatson at rally for Leonna Hale June 2022
Posted at 10:10 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 23:24:33-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Those who know of Leonna Hale wish there would have been a peaceful outcome, rather than what happened Friday night in the parking lot of a Family Dollar at east 6th Street and Prospect Avenue.

Hale was shot by a Kansas City, Missouri, police officer during a confrontation.

“We don't care if she did or didn't do what they said she did," one of Hale's supporters said. "She did not deserve to be shot down."

As Hale recovers from her wounds, her supporters came together Wednesday well aware of the charges the 26-year-old faces for allegedly having a firearm, and according to law enforcement, pointing that weapon at them.

“No matter what we are told happened, Miss Hale was a human being," Justice Gatson, founder and director of the Reale Just Network, said. "And it could have been any one of our mothers, sisters, cousins (or) aunties. For whatever reason, we will want them to be bought in safely and not be shot five times. We would not want that."

Gatson organized Wednesday evening's gathering and questions the single image of Hale holding a gun released by the Jackson County Prosecutor's office, who says it came from one of the officers’ body-worn cameras.

“It's the first time we've seen that photograph and I can't speak to the legitimacy of it," Gatson said. "We've had problems with KCPD and so I don't trust that department."

Following Wednesday's charges against Hale, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said their investigation continues and once it's complete, it'll be submitted to the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office for a final review.

"My baby walks to this store. There were other children and families in the store, in the parking lot that witnessed this," another one of Hale's supporters said. "Our community is hurt. We are hurting, we are traumatized. We are tired of feeling like our deaths don't matter, our pain don't matter and our tears don't matter. Our struggles matter — they do."

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas told KSHB 41 News Wednesday evening he has seen the body camera video and believes the officers made a decision within protocol.

But he understands the community has questions.

"I think that there are a lot of questions these days in America about these sorts of things," Lucas said. "I'm glad that there was a body cam video. In fact, there were multiple body cam videos worn by the officers. They were turned on. They follow policy, they follow protocol, because this was a story that started to get legs of its own on a number of items that just were not true. And again, I know why people have passion and concerns. But we have to make sure we tell them the truth about these sorts of things. We have to be factual and realistic about what's happening. I'm glad that we got to that today."