OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A KC firefighter accused of spitting on a 3-year-old child and calling the child a racial slur at a metro restaurant was found not guilty Wednesday.
Terrence J. Skeen, of KCMO, was charged with misdemeanor battery, disorderly conduct and assault. On Wednesday, he was found not guilty on all three charges in Overland Park Municipal Court.
On Feb. 26, police were called to the Hooters restaurant on Metcalf Avenue regarding a report of battery upon a child. Witnesses at the scene said Skeen had allegedly called a 3-year-old a racial slur and spat upon the child.
A witness told FOX4 the alleged altercation started when a child at the Overland Park Hooters location wandered away from his family, and Skeen started giving the family parenting advice.
Police later contacted the victim and family members, who had left the restaurant before police arrived.
Judge Cindi Cornwell said the city didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that anything witnesses accused Skeen of actually happened, and prosecutors were crippled by some seemingly inconsistent statements throughout the trial.
One witness said he saw Skeen spit on the boy and call him a racial slur. A different witness said he heard Skeen threaten the boy’s grandfather with a gun. But the defense pointed out the noise from basketball games on TVs would have made it hard for bystanders to hear anything.
Skeen took the stand and said he asked the boy’s grandfather to keep him with the family after the third time the 3-year-old wandered over to his table -- and that led to an argument.
He said he brought up he carried a gun in self-defense after the man said he wanted to take things outside. It was Skeen who called police as he said the family was pounding on the windows from outside the restaurant.
In court Wednesday, Skeen called his accusers bold face liars.
But an attorney for the family said justice wasn’t served.
“We learned that racism is still prevalent, and it’s alive and well in our communities and in our society, and you can be a victim of racism in this country and not receive justice," attorney Reginald Stockman said.
Skeen's attorney, Tom Bath, declined to speak with FOX4 on his way out of the courtroom, but in court he questioned police's motivation for charging the KC firefighter. Charges were handed down before police received video from the Hooters, and cameras weren't pointed toward Skeen.
Several fellow firefighters testified they've never seen Skeen be bias toward anyone. Skeen said he's openly gay and has posted on social media well before the incident that he has no tolerance for prejudice.