Prosecutor explains why officer who shot, killed unarmed KC man won’t face charges

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man earlier this year won't face charges, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Thursday.

Terrence Bridges, 30, had moved to Kansas City from Chicago to get away from gun violence, according to his family. He was shot and killed by a KCPD officer on May 26, 2019.

According to the prosecutor's investigation, on the night of May 25, police responded to a call at a house at 70th and Bellefontaine Avenue where Bridges lived with his girlfriend.

The girlfriend had run to a neighboring house to have the people inside call police because an argument between her and Bridges had turned physical. She told witnesses that Bridges had a gun.

A short while later, witnesses inside the neighboring house saw Bridges run toward the door and begin kicking it in. Believing Bridges had a gun, one of the neighbors got into a fight with Bridges and pushed him out of the house, while another person inside called police.

At 12:24 a.m. on May 26, three officers, including the one that would eventually shoot Bridges, were working a disturbance call with an armed  person at 70th and Cleveland, about a half-mile away.

The officers believed the disturbance calls were related because there wasn't a suspect description available.

When the officers went to 70th and Bellefontaine to do a canvass, they found the girlfriend, who told them that Bridges was headed to the bus station. Two of the officers went to the bus station to look for him, while the officer involved in the shooting stayed behind.

In his formal statement, the officer said that he turned the lights off on the house where Bridges lived with his girlfriend in order to see people on the street.  A dashcam on the officer's car captures Bridges walking in the middle of the street past the house.

During this time, the girlfriend identified Bridges as the person who had pulled a gun on her earlier. About a minute later, the officer ran at Bridges, who began running away.

The officer found Bridges in between two nearby houses with a 20-foot hedge in between them. According to the prosecutor's office, the officer shot Bridges once in the chest.

Before the shooting, there was no conversation between the two and the officer never gave verbal commands for Bridges to put his hands up or drop a weapon. There was no weapon found on Bridges and no weapon found in a canvass after the shooting.

During questioning, the officer stated that he saw Bridges had his hands in his hoodie and began moving towards towards the officer.

"I was... I was scared. I thought he had a gun. The way he brought his hands up out of his hoodie pocket it was like he was presenting a gun up towards me, so I shot him," the officer told investigators.

After the shooting, the officer's microphone recorded the following conversation:

Officer: "Show me your hands."

Bridges: "I ain't got nothing."

Officer: "Get on the ground."

Bridges: "You shot me."

Officer: "Why'd you attack me, dude?"

Bridges: "I didn't attack you."

When asked to explain why he claimed Bridges attacked him, the officer said, "I mean, I don't know, I wasn't looking for an answer, I guess. It was just instinct."

There is no video of the shooting and no witnesses who saw the fatal shot fired. Bridges later died from a gunshot wound to the chest at the hospital.

Prosecutors presented evidence to grand jurors with the possibility of charging the officer with voluntary manslaughter, armed criminal action or lesser charges. The grand jury declined to indict the officer.

Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said that her office will follow the grand jury's recommendation.

In a statement, Baker said, "This incident is a tragedy that we wish had simply not occurred. We offer our deepest condolences and sympathy to the Civilian's family and loved ones."

The officer who shot Bridges is back on duty and assigned to the patrol bureau, according to the Kansas City Police Department.

Terrence Bridges Sr. tells FOX4 that he's disappointed by the decision not to press charges.

"He's gone and the fact that me being a dad, I can't do anything, you know? I'm not trying to react as far as get revenge, but some type of justice should be served and it hurts, you know. It hurts. I just want that officer to put his self in my shoes.That's it."

More2, a social justice organization that advocated for the Bridges family, is calling for a special prosecutor.

"Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity grieves the loss of Terrence Bridges, Sr., and all of the other lives, which amounts to an average of four people per year, who are killed by Kansas City Police Officers.

"The families of these shooting victims deserve as transparent and open a process as every other shooting victim in our community, yet, these cases are handled in secret and families rarely get any form of justice.

"In this case, we want to see the transcripts of what was presented to the grand jury. We want to know why the officer has not been punished or released from the department.

'Most of all, we want this to STOP happening. We believe that nothing short of local control of the police department and an OUTSIDE special prosecutor reviewing these cases is acceptable...because we have seen zero opportunities for justice within the current system.

"Local control is needed because the police are policing themselves in KC; an outside investigator is necessary because our prosecutor works with the police daily and relies upon them for her cases."

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