Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct attribution in a quote from Kris Wade with Justice Project Kansas City. We regret the error.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two former Kansas City, Missouri, police officers plead guilty and avoid jail after assaulting a Black transgender woman.
Charles W. Prichard and Matthew G. Brummett pleaded guilty to third-degree assault during a hearing Monday afternoon. A judge suspended each man’s prison sentence and instead ordered each defendant to serve 3 years probation.
“I think it was fair and that it was the best we could hope for under these circumstances. That’s how I feel about it. You can only get what you can get from the law and the statutes that are available to you,” Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecutor, said.
As part of the deal, Prichard and Brummett agreed to surrender the law enforcement licenses. That means they will not be able to work as a police officer in the future.
“I’m really hoping this can be a teachable moment. I think the culture of KCPD needs to be explored, and how do guys get away with this out in the streets,” Peters Baker said.
A grand jury indicted Prichard and Brummett in May 2020 on assault charges for allegedly using excessive force to arrest Breona Hill outside a Kansas City beauty supply store on May 24, 2019.
Initial court documents say the two officers slammed Hill’s face against a concrete sidewalk, kneed her in the face, torso and ribs and forced her arms over her head while she was handcuffed.
Hill was involved in some type of dispute at the store prior to her arrest. Hill 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.
According to the grand jury’s affidavit, a witness, who took video of Hill’s arrest, saw an officer strike her 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 is also accused of slammed Hill’s face on the concrete twice before dropping 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.
“Trans women of color literally are in danger every minute they’re outside their house, especially in an ultra-conservative very traditionalist state like Missouri where there’s not a lot of understanding for trans folks,” Kris Wade with Justice Project Kansas City said.
The Kansas City Police Department confirmed that Brummett’s last date of employment was Dec. 16, 2021. Prichard’s last day with the department was Dec. 27, 2021.
“I expect our officers to treat all those they come into contact with on a daily basis with dignity and respect. The officers’ actions that day did not meet those expectations. They were unacceptable, will not be condoned, and will not be tolerated. I want to strongly reiterate if any member of the community has a concern regarding our members’ conduct, please contact the Office of Community Complaints,” Kansas City Police Chief Joe Mabin said.
In an unrelated case, Hill was shot to death in October 2019, at a home on Hardesty Avenue in east Kansas City. The shooting was determined to be self defense. The shooter received diversion for a gun charge.
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