KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two Kansas City police officers facing felony charges for an alleged excessive force arrest in 2019, have plead not guilty.
An attorney representing 37-year-old Matthew Brummett and 47-year-old Charles Prichard tells FOX4 the two officers appeared in court Tuesday via Webex and entered a plea of not guilty to third-degree assault in the arrest of Breona Hill.
The officers were originally indicted in May on fourth-degree assault for recklessly causing physical pain, a misdemeanor. Their charges were upgraded to a felony charge last month.
The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office said the jury came to this decision after taking further testimony in the case. More witnesses came forward after the officers were initially indicted in May.
Brummett and Prichard arrested Hill outside a Kansas City beauty supply store on May 24, 2019.
Initial court documents say the two officers slammed her face against a concrete sidewalk, kneed her in the face, torso and ribs and forced her arms over her head while she was handcuffed.
Before Hill’s arrest outside Beauty Essence, Barber and Beauty Supply Store on Brush Creek Boulevard, the jury foreman’s statement says Hill was involved in some form of dispute with an unknown third party.
She called 911 for help and also asked the store owner to call 911. When doing so, she began using slurs and insulted the store owner, who asked dispatchers to have her removed from the store.
Officers decided to arrest Hill, but she resisted arrest, court documents say. That’s when she was taken to the ground and allegedly assaulted by the officers.
She was taken to KCPD’s East Patrol station and cited for trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to the jury’s affidavit, a witness, who took video of the incident, saw an officer strike the woman with a closed fist.
While Hill is on her stomach, the video allegedly shows Brummett and Prichard kneel on top of her torso, ribs and upper back.
Brummett allegedly slammed Hill’s face two times on the concrete and then dropped his knee and a portion of his body weight on her neck and shoulder. The officers then finished handcuffing her.
Court documents say Prichard can be heard on the video saying, “We tried to be easy,” and “You made it this way.” Hill can be heard asking for help and moaning or crying.
Brummett then allegedly stepped on Hill’s hip and pulled her cuffed hands above her hands while she was still on the sidewalk. Hill does not move after this, according to the jury.
Just before this, Prichard can be heard saying, “You wanna push more?” Hill says, “I didn’t push nobody.” Prichard responds by saying, “Stop it, I’m tired of messin’ with you.”
In addition, Prichard, while pulling/pressing her arms upwards, says, “You’re doing it now.” Hill can be heard moaning and crying in pain until she goes silent.
A witness took photos of Hill’s injuries after she was taken to the hospital, showing cuts and bruises on her face.
In new court filings from the grand jury, two new witnesses the jury heard from were defensive tactics instructors. One was the lead instructor at KCPD’s Regional Police Academy in May 2019 when the incident occurred.
Both said there were several issues with force used during the arrest, and one of the instructors’ commanders said the actions were not justified.
The jury also spoke to a woman who saw Hill after she left the hospital, providing more details on the extent of her injuries.
Hill was shot to death in October 2019 at a home on Hardesty Avenue in east Kansas City. A man has been charged in connection to her murder.
A pre-trial conference has been preliminarily set for September 3, 2020, but that is subject to change.