Family thinks officer used excessive force on 22-year-old with baseball bat

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The family of the 22-year-old man, shot and killed by police Saturday as he aggressively swung a baseball bat, is now questioning the use of deadly force by the officers.

Nick Simonitch was bashing out car windows with a baseball bat when he was confronted by police. After one officer asked Simonitch to put down the bat, he acted as if he was doing so. As the officer took a step toward him he unexpectedly swung the bat again, just barely missing the officer. Police shot Simonitch dead within seconds of the attack.

Simonitch’s adoptive family has not disputed the reports of his actions on Saturday morning. They do insist, however, that it was not drugs or alcohol fueling his behavior, but rather attribute it to possible mental illness. His biological family has a history of Bipolar Disorder.

“He just snapped, we don’t know why, we were robbed of the opportunity to have him evaluated,” said Andy Loya, Simonitch’s uncle.

Ed Loya, Andy Loya’s brother, raised Simonitch as his own when his former girlfriend, the mother of the child, abandoned the boy as a baby.

“Ed mentioned that he had seen some erratic behavior in the days before this event,” said Andy Loya.

Simonitch had told his father he thought he was being followed, and didn’t sleep the night before he was shot.

“Honestly Ed does not feel it should have come to deadly force,” said Andy Loya, who agrees with his brother that alternative action, such as calling a backup officer or firing a Taser, could have been implemented in place of the gun shot.

John Hamliton, a retired policeman now teaching criminal justice at Park University, said Tasers don’t always work and their 21 foot range allows suspects to lunge at a cop, if the Taser doesn’t properly deploy.

“Anyway you go it’s a split second decision that the officer has to make,” said Hamilton. “A bat to the side of the head will kill you in a minute.”

Hamilton feels for the family but says police aim for body mass, not limbs and add it’s hard to second guess officers when someone doesn’t cooperate.

Until the investigation is complete, officers will not tell Simonitch’s family exactly what happened. His uncle said at the very least the family now knows that Simonitch needed help from a mental health expert.

 

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20 comments

  • Joe

    Of course the family wants to blame the police but if the family had taken care of the kid and got him the medical attention he needed, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. When are people going to stop trying to look for scapegoats. Take responsibility for your own family. Why weren’t his parents out there stopping him from breaking windows? Why didn’t his parents take the bat away? Where were his parents and what were they doing to diffuse the situation?

    • Rob

      No, an officer in that situation using a baton (billy club) would be at a distinct disadvantage. The longer bat creates much more force, especially with the wide bottom of the striking surface of the bat. It’s a potentially lethal weapon, that forces the officer to respond with a force that will end the threat. Sadly, that is what this officer had to do; and to have been put into that situation.

    • pamela

      The ONLY incident of Nick trying to hurt someone was when the cop prematurely lunged at him after asking him to drop his “weapon”. HE WAS DROPPING THE BAT. The cop is in the wrong for not following protocol and waiting for him to do so then telling nick to get to the ground. Nick wouldn’t be shot if the cop didn’t lunge, nick wouldn’t have had swung, everything would be fine except for a few broken windows.

      • Casey

        Obviously you didn’t read the article correctly. It says the officer took a STEP towards the man. It’s completely different than a LUNGE. A lunge would have been more of an attack than a step, would it not? And like stated, a Taser still put the officer in the range of the bat regardless and had the Taser not worked the officer could have got hit with the bat. So either way you would have had a sticky situation on your hands. I’m not saying that the police officer should have killed him but I’m not going to condemn him either. What would you be saying if the officer had taken the blow to the head instead and wound up dead? Would you still feel as strongly as you do?

  • Lana

    I take it your remedial… In which paragraph did you read that stated that the family wanted someone to blame anyone.. it clearly states nick was wrong but was deadly force needed?… no I wasn’t and shouldn’t have been. . Nick needed mental help and his family was robbed the opportunity of giving him that…Unfortunately people like you who speak before you think and are given the chance to write on here. Dont worry I’ll pray for you too..

  • Ed Griffin

    Sorry Lana, but mental illness doesn’t just come on all at once. There are always signs. Since his family has been around him since he was a small child, they saw the signs. Why didn’t they act on them? If as they say he needed help, why didn’t they get him the help he needed? If his family had acted upon his illness, then most likely we wouldn’t be commenting here today, so say a prayer for yourself, too…..

  • rod

    When have you ever seen a cop go after a deadly weapon that the guy is holding. They always stay back guns drawn tell the guy to get on the ground face down then they rush the bad guy with full force this is excessive force why did the cop get close enough to be hit with the bat is that what they teach I have never seen them do that is that the protocol if not the cop that was about to be hit needs to be punished for his actions. Because if he did not go by the book he caused that young man his life

  • Barb Rasnic

    The police always seem to get blamed for using deadly force. This young man was bashing out car windows with a ball bat. That takes some strength in itself. I feel for both sides on this case, but I believe we underestimate the situations that police are put in when they have minutes to think about what is best.

    • Scott

      Allen, are you suggesting the officer should have took the baseball bat to the head risking death, brain damage or serious injury? It’s not the officer’s fault that someone wanted to bash his head in and when they do it doesn’t matter if the guy is on drugs, has mental issues or is an honor roll student at Harvard.

      • pamela

        I would suggest the cop do his job and waited for Nick to put down the bat per protocol. He shot prematurely and should be held liable for this young man’s death. I’ll be the first to protest if I must. What happened here is wrong on part of the KCKPD and it’s not the first time, folks.

  • Mary Crawford

    If you feel like your life is in danger, you are going to go into self protection mode, whether you are a police officer or not. One blow to the temple and that cop would be dead. It does not matter what your weapon of choice is, this young man was the aggressor who was about to bash this officer’s head in. When you are defending yourself, you do not always have time to think….hmmm…what weapon should I use. You have to react instinctively to protect yourself. Cops are just as human as the rest of us.

  • allen

    Can someone enlighten me about police protocol? I was under the assumption that, if someone is wielding a weapon, he is instructed to throw the weapon away, lay down on his stomach, spread his legs and place his hands on his head. This gives the police the opportunity to kick the weapon away and to secure the perpetrator. If this protocol were followed, how is it possible that the perpetrator could have jumped up, grabbed the bat and been close enough to strike the officer? Also, why not use pepper spray or a stun gun? If the policeman was close enough to get hit by the bat, he was close enough to spray or stun the perpetrator.

    • Carrie

      Please do us all a favor do not comment on something that it is obvious you know nothing about. You do not know police policy because you are not a police officer. How dare you critize the vary people that you are going to call when it is your life in danger. The police make life and death choices everyday. Sometimes its the offenders life so he and the citizens he/she is protecting can go home. A bat is a dangerous weapon and just because the officer stepped toward the suspect does not give the offender the right to swing. Once the offender swung the bat it is now a deadly weapon and the use of deadly force is acceptable. This is going to sound catty but please if you are so anti police and do not want them to do their job all capicties please dont call them when you want or need them, just handle it yourself.

  • Bob

    this is a sad story and i’m sorry for the family. It seems to me that this is the result of several stupid actions leading to a death. Its definitely a worse case scenario but Nick Simonitch wasn’t a child he was a man and by 22 you’ve reached a point in life where its your own responsibility to seek out help for mental illness because at the end of the day you’re responsible for your own actions. Common sense should tell you to put down a weapon when a cop has a gun pointed at you and lunging at anyone who’s got a firearm pointed at you is always a quick way to die. Its not the officers fault or his parents like many of you seem to think. The sad reality is that its Nick Simonitch’s fault. His death was a direct result of HIS actions. Hopefully there are some people that will learn from Nicks mistakes and maybe a few tragedies like this can be prevented in the future, and if thats the case then nick wouldn’t have died a completely meaningless death.