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Highway Patrol: Woman holding handgun during entire exchange before KCPD shooting

Posted at 1:47 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 11:46:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri State Highway Patrol said Tuesday that the woman who was shot by Kansas City, Missouri, police Friday was holding a handgun during the shooting.

The woman was shot after two KCPD officers approached a vehicle that matched the description of a vehicle stolen earlier that day in Kansas City, Kansas.

Police said they recovered the handgun she was holding after the shooting.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Andy Bell told KSHB 41 News that they are certain the woman was holding the handgun at the time of the shooting after reviewing initial body cam footage.*

"We know for a fact that she had a handgun in her hand," Bell said.

Bell was not able to confirm the manner of which the woman was holding the weapon.

"The actions of how she was holding the gun, whether she was pointing it, we're not prepared to say right now," he said.

The investigation remains ongoing. It includes a review of body-camera footage, audio recordings from the scene as well as eye-witness accounts from the officers, bystanders and the woman who was shot.

Bell said investigators were doing all those things on Tuesday.

RELATED | Eyewitness shares story after woman shot by KCPD officer

An eyewitness started recording the aftermath of the shooting on her cell phone.

"Oh my god, they shot her," the witness shouts over and over in the video.

The witness later told KSHB 41 News she didn't see a gun.

"The woman is, at this point, confused," the witness said. "She's looking around, they tell her to get out, she gets out, she shows her hands, she stands in front of them, tells them, 'What's going on? I don't know what's going on.'"

The woman remains hospitalized in stable condition, according to Bell.

KCPD directed all requests for comment on the case to MSHP, which handles all investigations involving a shooting by KCPD officers.

Officer involved shooting investigations can take a long time, and we, as a news organization, never have all the information in the following days.

We've asked for body cam and dash cam footage, as well as all police reports but police likely won't release them for a while.

However, KSHB 41 News sat down with KCPD last year to talk about use-of-force.

"It's always based on that person's actions and a need, a life-endangering need, to stop those actions by using that force as quickly and efficiently as possible to save the life of that officer and anybody else that might be beyond that officer or nearby," KCPD Sgt. Jake Becchina said at the time.

How much did officers try to de-escalate the situation before shooting the woman? That remains to be seen as well.

KCPD has been training in de-escalation for the last 10 years.

Becchina said it all comes down to distance and cover — creating space between a person who might be agitated or has a weapon in their hand and trying to use a large, solid object as a barrier.

"It's our best chance for our survival and the survival of the other person," Becchina said. "It's the best chance for that other person to make a wise decision."

Becchina said the "unfortunate reality is sometimes that distance is not available or a person makes a choice to close that distance."

The ATF recently held a use-of-force training. Their agents told KSHB 41 News the laws come down to one thing.

"Based upon the totality of facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time they used force, was that force reasonable?" Paul Massock, deputy chief of the ATF Special Operations Division, said.

That's the question we are working to get answered in this case.

* Editor's Note: This story was originally published on Monday, May 30. On Wednesday, June 1, the Jackson County Prosecutor's office released a photo showing Hale carrying a gun.