KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police shot and killed a man at a Kansas City, Missouri, gas station Sunday night, and KSHB 41 News exclusively obtained surveillance video Wednesday showing a clearer picture of what happened.
The 47 second video shows the moments leading up to and the immediate aftermath of the shooting, which happened on East 55th Street and Prospect Avenue.
On the night of the shooting, a spokesperson for the lead investigating agency on this incident, Missouri State Highway Patrol, said the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department had eyes on a stolen SUV that was parked at the gas station. The man seen getting into the SUV was identified Tuesday as 31-year-old Zach Garrard.
KSHB 41 is taking this story 360, talking to:
- Jackson County's prosecuting attorney
- The mayor of Kansas City, Missouri
- A retired FBI special agent
Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker
The MSHP is working alongside the Jackson County prosecutor's office during their investigation. The prosecuting attorney, Jean Peters Baker, will review the case and decide if the officers acted within their right.
Peters Baker said the video is one piece of evidence her office will consider.
"There are multiple videos that I’ve had the opportunity to view,” she said. “I think it's important to caution people that while that's a clear and good video, there's a lot of other video to look at before determinations are made.”
She’s also received additional video from body and dashboard cameras from several officers.
“All of those things together help tell the real story and helps you understand,” she said. “All of that is important to look at in its totality along with other accounts of what occurred in the lot that night.”
Peters Baker said it has previously been difficult to investigate cases that involve KCPD but is getting more access from the department when looking into these types of cases.
"I'm really encouraged that there's been sort of a shifting of trust or a shifting of how quickly my staff is allowed in,” she said. “On Sunday evening I was able to go to the scene. I was able to see video at the scene, so there’s a much more fluid working relationship now.”
Peters Baker is not sure when she’ll make a determination based on the evidence but said the goal is to be transparent throughout the process and will release all of the video to the public as soon as she can.
Mayor Quinton Lucas
Mayor Quinton Lucas has also focused on transparency between the Kansas City, Missouri, community and its police department.
While Lucas has faith in the KCPD, he says unbiased investigations led by an outside agency are crucial to reaching that mission.
"I trust the police department," Lucas said. "I did before, I did after, I’ll continue to do so. That said, you’ve got to make sure you’re doing a fair investigation. I can’t do a good investigation of how things are going in the mayor’s office, if somebody was really trying to ask questions. I think it’s important to have an impartial third party."
Lucas further explained that the trust in the city's police department extends beyond himself.
"I think the people of Kansas City trust and like their police department," Lucas said. "That said, they want to be able to ask questions. They want to make sure that bad incidents that happen aren’t covered up, so that’s why I think we’re taking this important step."
Lucas has advocated for changes in the way KCPD operates, which includes providing more information to the public in a timely fashion.
"I actually do find more information is always better," Lucas said. "There are some people who have this worldview of, ‘No, you shouldn’t share information until you know 100% of everything.’ I disagree."
But there is still an information gap, which makes Lucas’ quest to reconcile the trust between his city and its officers much more difficult.
“When there’s a groundswell of hundreds of people in the community, if not thousands, who are saying, ‘What in the heck’s going on?,’ something’s going to fill that gap,” Lucas said. “We can either let that be falsehoods or we can let that be factual information. I will always push for us to get more factual information out as quickly as possible. And frankly, even in that regard, we need to do better.”
A retired FBI special agent
Michael Tabman is a retired FBI special agent with 27 years of law enforcement experience.
KSHB 41 asked him to review the surveillance video. He is not involved in the investigation.
"It made it a basically a felony car stop, where they approach the individual, guns drawn, which is their discretion," Tabman said.
The video doesn't have audio, so it is not possible to hear what the officers might have said to Garrard.
However, it is visible to see Garrard abruptly backing out and putting the SUV in drive, which leads to him crashing into the police van and appearing to bump the officer next to the van.
Police say that's when two of the officers opened fire and Tabman said Garrard isn't being shot at because he stole the SUV.
"He's being shot at because of his actions while trying to be apprehended," Tabman said. "He's already shown a willingness to run over a police officer, run over someone else."
Tabman pointed out a part of the video where he says the officers could have approached the situation differently by utilizing the space behind the SUV.
He further explained that the officers could have positioned their vehicles right behind Garrard to keep him from being able to back out so easily.
Tabman said the officers could have still taken cover behind the police vehicle or the vehicle door to give themselves distance and time.
"You want to avoid that situation, this is why we don't want things going mobile," Tabman said.
Tabman said officers needed to control the situation because he thinks the vehicle was used as a weapon and posed a danger to them.
Due to the officers being in danger, Tabman said that lethal force was reasonable in this case.
As part of KSHB 41 News' commitment to providing context and depth in our reporting, we've excited to share our latest project, which we're calling 360. This project takes stories and topics that our communities are talking about and explores different perspectives on the issue. You can be a part of the process by e-mailing your ideas and thoughts to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.