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Family of teen wrongfully detained for 3 weeks reaches settlement with KCPD in civil rights case

Tyree Bell
Posted at 3:45 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 18:28:27-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The family of a Kansas City, Missouri, teenager wrongfully detained for three weeks has reached a settlement in a civil rights lawsuit against the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.

A KCPD spokesperson said the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners voted to settle with the family for a total of $900,000 and that the officers involved would like to meet the teen to apologize.

Tyree Bell and his family sued KCPD after he was arrested and detained for three weeks in a juvenile jail during a June 8, 2016, incident involving a suspected teenager with a gun near east 91st Street and Marsh Avenue.

Two KCPD officers responding to the call, Peter Neukirch and Jonathan Munyan, attempted to stop three teenagers near the scene when one took off running.

Seven minutes later and roughly a mile away, another KCPD officer stopped Bell along East 87th Street since he matched the general description of the suspect.

Despite the fact that Bell didn’t attempt to flee from the second alleged contact and was not out of breath, he was arrested based on Munyan’s identification — an ID the court found to be egregiously flawed.

"That interaction led to the arrest of Mr. Bell," KCPD spokesperson Sgt. Jake Becchina said in a statement provided to KSHB 41. "It was later determined we made a mistake and the arrest of Mr. Bell was in error."

Bell told KSHB 41 News the settlement is bittersweet, because he can't share it with his mother who passed away a few years ago.

"Just the fact that we started this together and we couldn't finish it together, put me in a position where I don't really know how to feel," Bell said.

He described the sadness he remembered feeling when he was first taken to the juvenile detention center and saw his family through the glass.

"I felt all the emotions at that point, I was about to start crying because I can't stand to see my mama cry or my grandma go crazy," Bell said.

Bell said true justice for him would be more police officers making an effort to get involved in their communities to form relationships with citizens.

"The more they know people, the less they'll be likely to shoot somebody or harm somebody," Bell said. "If somebody commits a crime, a police officer could say 'Hold on I know him, let me talk to him for a second and let me see where his mind is,'" Bell said.

Under the terms of the settlement, Bell’s family will dismiss their lawsuit.

The settlement averts a jury trial that had been scheduled for Feb. 28.

The settlement marks the end of a multi-year legal battle. The family first sued the department in 2017, but U.S. District Court Judge Greg Kays dismissed the suit in 2019, saying the two officers had qualified immunity.

In October 2020, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel overturned Kays ruling and sent it back to district court.

That case made its way to trial in October 2021, where a jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case.

At the time, Bell’s attorney Arthur Benson told KSHB 41 that the family was looking forward to a new trial.