KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than six years after a Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department officer shot and killed Ryan Stokes in a downtown parking lot, Stokes' family is still advocating for policy reform.
Stokes' uncle, Curtis Taylor, continues to demand change to the department’s death notification policy.
"Do the hard thing. Do the right thing that acknowledges the pain and suffering," Taylor said, choking up while addressing the Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday.
The meeting was the latest one the Stokes family has attended to advocate for change.
"I keep coming to fight for Ryan because wrong is wrong and right is right, and Ryan wasn't that kind of young man,” said Narene Stokes, Ryan’s mother. “Ryan was our baby.”
In July 2013, a KCPD officer shot and killed Stokes during a chase near the Power and Light District. According to police, Stokes was armed and threatened officers. But after the shooting, civil rights leaders and his family questioned that report.
"It has torn us to pieces. We're just so hurt and angered and frustrated and just disappointed,” Narene Stokes said. “Ryan was a big glue to our family.”
Last year, Police Chief Rick Smith revoked an award given to the officer who shot and killed Stokes.
"That was one step,” Narene Stokes said. “So where's the next step, and the next step to tell us the truth?"
The Stokes’ family claim they didn't receive compassion from officers the night the 24-year-old man died.
"When they came to the house, they had us like we were going to attack, like it was going to be a war," Narene Stokes said.
The family is now asking KCPD to review its policy when it comes to notifying the family following the death of a civilian in an officer-involved shooting. The family would like to see a clergy member accompany police.
"All we're asking is that you come to us, to people who've had losses in their lives like that,” Taylor said. “Come with respect, tell the truth.”
A spokesperson for KCPD said the department cannot comment on the family’s claims due to pending litigation.