Ryan Stokes' family in court, hopeful jury will hear his case

Ryan Stokes
Posted at 6:27 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 12:43:14-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After eight years of waiting, a Kansas City family got at least one step closer to having their case tried in front of a jury.

Ryan Stokes' family and attorney were in court in St. Louis on Tuesday. The eighth circuit court of appeals is hearing the case.

They hope to reverse a previous judge's decision that the officer who shot and killed Stokes shouldn't be prosecuted.

William Thompson said he shot Stokes in 2013, because he thought Stokes had a gun and was raising it toward another officer.

The family's attorney says Stokes wasn't armed and was raising his hands in surrender.

The previous judge ruled Thompson should be granted qualified immunity.

In other words, the judge said Thompson wouldn't be prosecuted because it was a reasonable assumption that, from his vantage point, Stokes might be armed so Thompson acted in defense of another officer.

However, the family's attorney argued Stokes didn't know he was being pursued and evidence showed Thompson never gave any commands to drop a weapon or raise his hands, so he shouldn't be granted qualified immunity.

Stokes's mother, Narene, said she hopes the court of appeals will take this into consideration so she can clear her son's name.

"Ryan's whole character was demonized and that's just not right," Narene said. "We are trying to get the restorative justice of Ryan's name in this case."

Narene stresses that her son didn't have a criminal record, nor did he have any drugs or alcohol in his system.

She says prior to that night, he was friendly with members of the police department, playing basketball in the police athletic league.

The Stokes family is asking the court of appeals to overturn the previous decision and allow the case to proceed in front of a jury.

Following today's arguments, the panel of three judges will issue their decision in the next two to six months.

"This is a new day and a new time and there are changes that need to be made to the system," Narene said. "It is so broken to me and still broken. We’re here to try to fix that and change that."