KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A social justice group founded by rapper Jay-Z, and others, has sued the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department in an effort to get records involving misconduct claims against a number of officers.
Team Roc said it requested records to look at the scope of alleged misconduct claims against different officers over the past decade. The group said it hopes to use the complaints to evaluate if the department’s training and supervision is adequate.
The petition filed in Wyandotte County court said the KCKPD refused to turn over documents, even after open records requests were submitted for the public information.
The suit claims that “it is an open secret that the KCKPD has a history of misconduct. For decades members of the KCKPD abused their positions of power and authority to solicit and coerce fabricated witness statements and testimony, plant evidence, procure sexual favors, withhold exculpatory evidence, and conceal their own misconduct and ignore the misconduct of others.”
The suit points to a number of officers who have been charged with various crimes since 2011.
One example listed in the complaint is Nicholas Schafer. He was charged with aggravated indecent liberties with a child younger than 14 in June 2020. Schafer, 36, was employed by the KCK Police Department at the time.
Just six months earlier in January of 2020, the Wyandotte County District Attorney announced charges against Kansas City, Kansas, police officer Travis Toms. He was charged with buying sexual relations.
The suit says a total of eight KCKPD officers were sued for entering a home where a Kansas City man was working construction. They are accused of throwing him to the floor at gunpoint and kicking him until he lost consciousness.
In 2018, a female police cadet filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Kansas Human Rights Commission against the department. She claimed she had been fired by former Chief Terry Zeigler in retaliation for reporting she had been sexually harassed and sexually assaulted by her supervising officer.
In 2011, the FBI conducted a sting and KCKPD Special Weapons and Tactics officers were indicted for a conspiracy to steal cash and other personal property from homes while serving search warrants. All three officers have since pleaded guilty in connection to their roles in the scheme.
The petition also mentions Zeigler’s controversial living arrangement, as well as his connection to his former partner, Roger Golubski. Golubski has been accused of framing an innocent Black man for a homicide that he didn’t commit. People have also come forward to say that he used his position of authority to prey on women.
Team Roc said requested the complaints and other records to help make the misconduct public. According to the lawsuit, Team Roc hopes the information will help potential victims seek justice. Team Roc also said that by ordering the department to release the records, it will help ensure that the KCKPD is subject to scrutiny by the community it is supposed to protect.
A spokesperson for the Unified Government issued a statement to FOX4 saying that they intend to respond to the lawsuit in a court filing.
“The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, KS has received notice that Roc Nation has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Wyandotte County District Court today regarding an earlier open records request.
The Unified Government has previously produced hundreds of the requested records per the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) with some exceptions.
KORA does not require the disclosure of personnel records and criminal investigation records, for example, without specific circumstances. In response, Roc Nation has filed a 28-page petition stating there is a special interest in disclosing all records so the public can seek justice. Once the petition has been thoroughly reviewed, the Unified Government will follow-up by filing a response.”
FOX4 asked the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department for comment about the legal action. The department said it is still reviewing the petition, but plans to respond publicly soon.