KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A woman filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Kansas City Police Department, Board of Police Commissioners, and others over the June 2018 shooting death of her son.
Denise White claims her son’s civil rights were violated when she says police used excessive force and shot him 17 times. According to the lawsuit, 38-year-old Robert White did not receive treatment for nearly six minutes after the shooting and died of his injuries. She’s asking that the officers face charges and have a jury trial.
Her attorney, William Denning says after detailed investigation, White decided to file the civil suit Friday on behalf of the son she lost prematurely.
An investigation following the shooting determined a man named Timothy Mosley approached a uniformed security guard on a golf cart at Barney Allis Plaza. The security guard said Mosley held a gun to his side and demanded he drive toward a man later identified as White who was also downtown.
Investigators found as soon as the men reached White, Mosley jumped out of the golf cart and attacked him.
The newly-filed lawsuit claims the attack lasted at least 10 minutes. It also claims that instead of radioing for help, the security officer ran away.
When Kansas City Police officers arrived, the lawsuit also claims Mosley grabbed White and used him as a human shield as he pulled a gun. According to the lawsuit, officers fired at the men, even though Mosley never fired his weapon.
Denning said each entity had a hand, both directly, and indirectly in White’s death.
“Had police responded earlier or the security handled it differently, who knows what would have happened.” Denning said. “We believe there were opportunities for a different outcome for Mr. White.”
In 2019, Jackson County Prosecutors declined to file charges against the two officers involved in the deadly shooting.
In a letter sent to KCPD Chief Rick Smith, prosecutors said a committee reviewed the shooting and determined it was justified and evidence didn’t support filing criminal charges against the officers involved.
The prosecutor’s letter says the officers’ actions were justified because Mosley’s actions “imminently threatened the lives of the officers.”
“There is a conversation locally and nationally on how police interact with the people in the country, and the role that can play with private security,” Denning said.
Denning said there is no doubt authorities failed White.
“He was unarmed,” Denning said. “I hope Mrs. White can find solace that at the end of the day, what happened to her son, someone is willing to speak up for him, and tell his story.”
The Kansas City Police Department declined to comment on the case. The suit was filed within a federal court, and could take 18 months up to two years to conclude.