Family of the woman at the center of a Kansas City police brutality lawsuit asks for justice

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. —   The family of a transgender woman said police brutalized their loved one in a hate crime.

The May 14, 2019 altercation has led to a lawsuit filed against the Kansas City Police Department by the family of Breonna Hill, 30. On Friday, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker filed indictments against the two officers, Charles Pritchard and Matthew Brummitt. A news release from KCPD stated both officers have been placed on administrative leave. 

Hill was a transgender woman of African-American descent. The beating in the case gathered national attention.

Video from the scene showed officers arresting Hill, taking her to the ground outside the Beauty Essence store on Brush Creek Boulevard in the process. Roderick Reed, an eyewitness, recorded the video, during which, Hill’s screams for help can be heard. Hill later received medical treatment at Truman Medical Center.

“Slamming her face. Stepping on her. Bending her arms up over her head from the opposite direction while she was handcuffed,” Reed recalled. “You can hear it breaking. I heard it cracking.”

Reed, who said he was passing through the neighborhood to rent a truck, said he could hear Reed calling out for help. Reed said he could see that Hill was bleeding from her eyes and mouth.

“You’re not a police officer when you’re committing a crime — a hate crime,” Reed said.

Rena Childs, Hill’s aunt, said the beating has taken a mental toll on her, and she keeps her mind busy in effort to forget that her niece was beaten.

“You slammed her head to the concrete. You put your knees on her. Where’s the justice to that? They’re supposed to serve and protect. They didn’t serve or protect,” Childs said tearfully.

Hill was later murdered in late 2019 in an unrelated shooting.

On Friday evening, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith released a written statement, saying a document of probable cause hadn’t been sent to prosecutors because there was no reason to believe the officers had broken the law. Chief Smith also said his record concerning accusations of police brutality was strong and defined, and that he has not tolerated it in past instances.

David Smith, the attorney representing Hill’s family, has worked other excessive force cases in the past. He told FOX4 News he believes the Kansas City Police Department has hundreds of trustworthy officers, but the officers and the chief should face consequences.

“First, you fire the officers. Second, you make sure they have their licenses yanked so they can never be police officers again. And third, Chief Smith should resign. You don’t get involved in covering up the crimes of your officers,” Smith said.

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