Court deputies shot Blue Springs man after he pointed rifle at them during eviction, officials say

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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — A man is recovering in the hospital after being shot Friday morning during an eviction in Blue Springs.

Blue Springs police who responded to the shooting took about a dozen bags of evidence out of the home near N.W. 4th Street and N.W. Westchester Court. Included in that evidence was a long gun.

A spokesperson for Jackson County Court said two Civil Process Deputies with the 16th Judicial Court were performing a housing eviction at the home when a man inside pointed a rifle at the deputies. Both deputies shot the man; police say he was hit in the abdomen.

“It’s very normal for them to carry a gun, very normal for them to handle evictions,” Blue Springs Police Chief Bob Muenz said of the court deputies. “It is not normal for them to encounter violence of this nature.”

Family members who showed up on-scene a few hours after the shooting said the man is 38-year-old Donald Eric Smith, who is named in the court paperwork. The eviction was filed Oct. 21. Smith’s landlord said he was 4 months behind on rent, which equaled over $5,000.

Court records show Smith didn’t show up for a Dec. 8 hearing, and the eviction was ordered this week.

“I was coming back from running two errands, and I came up on policemen everywhere,” neighbor Roberta Stark said. “I barely could get through to park.”

Stark was surprised to see police at Smith’s home Friday morning after the shooting. She said she saw Smith being taken out of the home by EMS workers.

Family members said Smith was is in serious condition and doctors operated on him Friday. They said Smith was not a violent person and recently lost his job because of mental health issues that came on suddenly in the last year.

Family members said the court was aware of Smith’s mental health issues and were supposed to bring a social worker along to perform the eviction.

A court spokesperson said the court did not receive any communication from the family.

The family also said the rifle was a BB gun. Police would not comment on that claim.

KC Tenants, a local tenants rights group, issued this statement after the shooting:

“Every eviction is an act of violence. Sometimes, that violence takes place in a Courtroom or on a WebEx conference line. 

“Today, that violence was obvious and brutal. Today, that violence took place in the home of a tenant in a mental health crisis.

“This morning a Civil Process Deputy, employed by the 16th Circuit Court of Jackson County, shot a tenant while trying to force him out of his home and into the cold during a pandemic. 

“Presiding Judge Dale Youngs, the Associate Circuit Judges, the Office of Civil Process, and the Civil Process Deputies defend property, not people. They are so committed to the protection of private property that they will sacrifice human safety. 

“We ask the following: 

  • Who supervises these Civil Process Deputies and holds them accountable to senseless acts of violence?
  •  Why do the Civil Process Deputies carry guns to execute evictions? 
  •  The family of this tenant specifically requested a mental health counselor be present during this traumatic event. Where was that counselor? 
  •  How does Presiding Judge Dale Youngs plan to hold his employee accountable for this violence? 
  • Why won’t Presiding Judge Dale end evictions during the pandemic, as his predecessor did in March, and as his counterpart in St. Louis has done for the duration of this crisis? 

“We demand answers. We demand accountability. We demand an immediate end to all eviction filings, hearings, judgments, and writs of execution.”

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