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Lawsuit filed Monday claims state of Missouri control over KCPD is unconstitutional

Mother of Ryan Stokes among plaintiffs
BOPC meeting Aug 31
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A lawsuit filed Monday by three Missouri residents — including the mother of Ryan Stokes, the man who was shot and killed by a Kansas City, Missouri, police officer in July 2013 — is challenging the state of Missouri's control over the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.

The plaintiffs claim that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, Attorney General Andrew Bailey, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and KCMO Board of Police Commissioners are intentionally discriminating against Black residents of Kansas City, Missouri, and violating the Title VI Civil Rights Act.

The lawsuit claims the state of Missouri's statutes that create a BOPC consisting of Kansas City, Missouri's mayor and four police commissioners appointed by the Missouri governor are unconstitutional and violate the 14th Amendment.

RELATED | Read the full lawsuit

"Outside of the mayor of Kansas City, the commissioners serve at the pleasure of the governor," the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs argue the laws that fall under Chapter 84 of Missouri's statues "target Kansas City’s Black residents on the basis of race for a separate and unequal policing structure."

The lawsuit also makes the case that Chapter 84 was created to control the St. Louis Police Department "in an attempt to aid the Confederacy in the Civil War."

The lawsuit claims that the statutes create state policing "free from electoral accountability," removes Kansas City residents' ability to have a say in how to spend their tax dollars and in the city's policing. The statutes also deny "Kansas City the ability to change operations and/or policies that have been shown to result in discriminatory policing," the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs claim that KCPD enforces against Black residents at a disproportionate rate, citing KCPD's 2022 vehicle stops report. The report shows that despite white residents making up 63% of the city's population and Black residents representing 25% of the population, Black residents were stopped at higher rates.

"This pattern of differential policing is not new" the lawsuit goes on to say, explaining that Black residents were stopped at a higher rate in the 2015, 2010 and 2000 vehicle stop reports, despite white individuals typically having a higher contraband hit rate.

The plaintiffs — including KCMO residents Barbara Johnson and Nicole Price, as well as Stokes' mother, Narene Crosby — request and demand a jury trial.

KSHB 41 News contacted KCPD and the Kansas City, Missouri, BOPC for a statement regarding the lawsuit.

"Generally we do not comment on pending litigation to ensure fairness for all sides involved," a KCPD spokesperson said in a statement.

This story will be updated if a statement from the KCMO BOPC is received.