Testimony continues in lawsuit against Kansas City, Mo., police officer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City, Mo., police officer Robert Vivona is facing a civil lawsuit in a Jackson County courtroom.

Relatives of slain suspect, Terry Davis, claim the officer used excessive force when he shot and killed the 26-year-old on May 8, 2008.

The deadly shooting happened after a police chase involving a stolen car. Davis fled the car on foot and ended up in a field near 26th and Jackson.

A woman, who lived across the street from the field where Davis was shot five years ago, testified Wednesday afternoon.

Michelle Evans told the jury that she saw Davis running from police in the field at 26th and Jackson.

"I saw him running in the lot, " Evans said. "Police were yelling, 'Get down. Stop. Get down.' He had his hands up and he was getting down. I heard the shots."

Evans said she saw Davis fall to the ground on his side. She said he was already on his knees. She then told the jury that she called 911 because she thought it was wrong.

"I told them, 'I just thought it was wrong letting that young man die,'" Evans said.

On Wednesday, Evans told the jury she did not see where Davis was shot. On cross-examination, defense  attorneys representing officer Vivona, questioned Evans about the change in her testimony. Evans answered that during the earlier statement she was on medication that caused her to be confused.

Vivona took the stand Wednesday afternoon. He testified that he was on foot in a field near 26th and Jackson when he saw Davis.

"My initial reaction was shock in seeing him. I was shocked that he had a gun near his waistband – not that he was there," Vivona said.

Vivona said Davis turned and started running.

"I recall saying, ‘Drop the gun,' at least once," Vivona said.

He stood up and demonstrated to the jury how Davis was holding the gun and pointing at him 2-3 feet away.

Vivona testified that he fired one shot.

"He (Davis) fell to his knees. I do recall him falling to his knees," Vivona said. "With both of his hands, he went to his waist area and made a motion over his head -- throwing his gun up over his head."

Vivona said Davis fell to the ground and another officer came to put the handcuffs on Davis.

Kansas City police have stated that Davis was running from police and came face-to-face with a tactical police officer. According to police, Davis pointed a gun at the officer, and the officer shot the suspect.

"He began turning to his left, with the gun now in his right hand, pointed it up towards my chest," Vivona said.

His attorney Patrick Baird told the jury that Vivona acted in self-defense.

"Officer Vivona will tell you that he saw the barrel of that gun and that it was pointed directly at him, and because of that, Officer Vivona fired," Baird said.

The trial will continue Thursday. Closing statements are expected Friday.

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