KCMO faces lawsuit in 2013 police shooting

Posted at 2:37 PM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-15 18:26:15-05

The father of Todd Weber, a man who died after a police chase three years ago, is suing Kansas City, Mo., Police Chief Darryl Forté and four officers.

Weber, 38, died in January 2013, after a police chase that began in Independence and ended when he got out of his car in the southbound lanes of Interstate 435 near Front Street in Kansas City.

His father, Lewis Weber, filed his suit in U.S. District Court on Jan. 14, 2015, seeking actual and punitive damages and a jury trial on a variety of counts:

  • Wrongful death -- under federal and state statutes (against the four officers)
  • Use of excessive force (against the four officers)
  • Failure to train (against Forté and the city)

The officers named in Lewis Weber's suit are Michael Lenoir, Justin Pinkerton, Jason Quint and Scott Selcock.

What happened:

On Jan. 15, 2013, Kansas City police officers shot and killed Todd Weber, who had led them on a chase from Independence to Kansas City.

The incident began around 1 p.m., when police stopped Weber on a traffic violation. Reports show that Weber put a gun to his head and then took off with officers in pursuit. Police used stop sticks in an attempt to disable Weber's vehicle--to no avail.

After a six-mile chase that at one point saw speeds as low as five miles per hour, Weber got out of his car in the southbound lanes of Interstate 435 near Front Street in Kansas City.

When Weber put a gun to his head again, the lawsuit states, officers shot rubber bullets at him as he retreated to his car.

That's when, according to the suit, the real bullets began to fly:

"Immediately after Defendant Selock again began shooting Decedent with rubber projectiles while Decedent was in his vehicle, Defendants Lenoir, Pinkerton, and Quint shot Decedent with nearly 40 real bullets until they killed him at the scene. At least 23 of those bullets penetrated Decedent."

The Kansas City Police Dept. says officers shot at Weber only after the suspect fired on them.

Among the claims in Lewis Weber's suit:

  • "Defendants Selock, Lenoir, Pinkerton, and Quint failed to exhaust all other reasonable means of apprehending Decedent prior to resorting to deadly force."
  • "Defendants Kansas City and Forté were responsible for the administration of the Kansas City Police Department, and for the development of its policies and customs."
  • "Defendants were obligated to follow statutory and procedural guidelines for the implementation of deadly force, but none of the defendants abided by the same, thus leading to the damages alleged herein."

The Captain M. Tye Grant of the police department released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:

A lawsuit has been filed against the Kansas City Missouri Police Department regarding a fatal officer-involved shooting on January 15, 2013. Investigation into that incident determined that Independence, Missouri, Police stopped a man for several equipment violations. When the officer approached the vehicle, he saw the man was armed with a gun. The driver then fled, and Independence officers pursued him into our city. After he struck Stop Sticks, the man came to a stop in the middle of Interstate 435 near Front Street.

Kansas City Police officers shut down the interstate. KCPD officers attempted to negotiate with the armed man. But the man pointed his gun and fired at the officers, who – in fear for their own safety – returned fire.

Unfortunately, lawsuits sometimes arise in law enforcement. And most family members who have lost a loved one in an officer-involved shooting wish things could have gone differently. No police officer ever wants to take a life, but – as in this incident – officers are sometimes forced to do so to protect themselves and others.