KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A 22-year-old man has pleaded guilty to fatally shooting a KCK police captain in July 2016.
Jamaal Lewis was scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 5, but he pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree felony murder in the killing of 46-year-old Capt. Dave Melton.
Melton was searching for suspects in a drive-by shooting when he saw Lewis walking and tried to block him with his patrol car. Prosecutors say Lewis pulled a handgun and fired several shots through the passenger-side window of Melton's vehicle.
Lewis was originally charged with capital murder. He could be sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 25 years. He will be sentenced Nov. 30.
KCK Mayor David Alvey released the following statement about the guilty plea:
“I am deeply concerned that the plea agreement does not match the exceptionally serious nature of this capital crime. I am also disturbed that neither the victim’s family members, nor our law enforcement community, were apprised of this plea agreement before it took place. This plea agreement is a de facto devaluation of victim’s rights and the daily sacrifices of our law enforcement community.”
But Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree later issued a statement, saying there was no plea agreement in the case.
"Lewis entered said plea without any agreement from the state, and the plea was accepted by the court. There is no agreement in this matter," Dupree said. "A criminal defendant may plead guilty to any charges against him at any time."
Scott Kirkpatrick, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4, issued the following statement:
"Today, the family of Captain Dave Melton, the members of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, and FOP Lodge #4 were completely blindsided by the plea of Captain Melton’s killer. Now, instead of facing the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole, this cold-blooded murderer of a police officer will be set free after only serving 25 years.
"The plea occurred without any input from Captain Melton’s family. Mr. Dupree failed to take the necessary legal steps to stop this plea before it occurred. When the Melton family questioned him, Mr. Dupree, instead of explaining the situation, berated the family choosing to focus more on his personal reputation than the justice he is obligated to seek for the commission of this heinous crime.
"In his subsequent statement to the media, Mr. Dupree has refused to accept responsibility for his incompetent decision to include this lesser offense in the charging document.
"Captain Melton’s murder was unquestionably premeditated, and his killer deserved the maximum possible sentence under the law.
"Mr. Dupree shirked his legal responsibilities to keep our community safe by committing this error that any seasoned prosecutor would never have made. His enormous mistake allowed Captain Melton’s killer to escape the appropriate punishment for this capital crime. It is a travesty of justice.
"With this, and the other countless examples of Mr. Dupree’s incompetence, the FOP and its members will work tirelessly to ensure that he only serves one term as District Attorney."
In November 2016, another suspect involved the case, Daqon Sipple, was sentenced to 21 months in prison. Sipple pleaded guilty to aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and criminal discharge of a firearm.