KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Awards given to two KCPD police officers involved in the deadly shooting of a 24-year-old have been taken away.
In July 2013, Ryan Stokes was shot and killed by police at the Power & Light District. Until now, the department has stuck to its version of what happened, but pulling the awards now suggests a change.
It was a surprise to most at the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners meeting when KCPD Chief Rick Smith made this request of the board: “I bring in front of the board that the award issued to Officers William Thompson and Tamara Jones that was issued on August 26, 2014, be rescinded.”
The commendation was given for ending the threat to other officers on scene because it was believed Stokes had a gun and refused to drop it.
“Sometimes there are many different sources in a story,” Smith said. “There is different accounts, and we have to make those are accurate whether it be an award or investigation.”
Stokes’ mother, Narene Stokes James, never believed the police narrative about what happened in the death of her son and has spent the past 5 years fighting for the truth. She has appeared before the Board of Police Commissioners several times with her concerns.
Board President Nathan Garrett, who is fairly new to the board, said he gave James’ concerns his personal attention.
“I looked at the process that was in place for those awards and the factual narrative that had accompanied the issuance of the award. It was my judgement that it contained inaccurate information,” Garrett said.
James was not at the meeting Monday but issued the following statement after she heard about the decision:
“Today the police department has taken the first step by admitting that they lied about my son and they lied about the circumstances of his death.
“These awards caused our family tremendous pain. I am sad that they did not think enough of my son or me to invite me to attend this meeting.
“We will continue to fight for Ryan until the police accept responsibility for Ryan’s death.
“PO Thompson shot my unarmed son in the back and is actions can never be justified.”
While neither Smith nor Garrett would say what the incorrect information is, Stokes’ family attorney Cyndy Shorts listed several lies, as she calls them, told by KCPD after the shooting.
That there was a standoff. That Stokes had a gun and pointed it at officers. That officers ordered Stokes to drop the gun, among others.
“And I know those things are untrue because the officers have admitted that,” Short said.
KCPD issued the following statement:
“A review of the award revealed inaccurate information had been submitted. Based on this review it was determined that the facts did not support the award and it was rescinded. The members that received the award were in full agreement with the award being rescinded.”
Still without any real answers, Short said the Stokes family wants change within the department so no other family has to suffer like they have.
“I think unfortunately KCPD adopted a check list that we see across the country.” Short said. “So you begin by defending, you begin by misinformation, which you hope people won’t stand up. And Narene has had so much courage to stand up and say tell me the truth.”