KCPD sergeant indicted for excessive force on 15-year-old; Chief Smith responds

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. –A Jackson County grand jury indicted a KCPD sergeant for third-degree assault on a 15-year-old boy. Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker made the announcement during a news conference on Friday.

According to the indictment, Sergeant Matthew T. Neal put his knee on the back of the victim’s head and neck, which forced his head to the pavement. The victim repeatedly stated “I can’t breathe” in a plea for help.

“Those, I realize are now pretty infamous words, but in fact, those are his words, back in November of 2019 when this occurred,” said Baker during the news conference.

The victim’s injuries included broken teeth and gash on his head, said Baker. An affidavit says the victim need six stitches for a cut near his hairline.

The affidavit stated the use of excessive force allegedly occurred on on Nov. 14. 2019, in the parking lot of Go Chicken Go, near 51st and Troost Avenue.

The incident started when an officer, suspicious of the victim and another male who were at 7-Eleven near 89th and Wornall, attempted to stop them as they drove away from that location. 

The driver fled until the vehicle was stopped in the parking lot of Go Chicken Go. The driver and the passenger, the victim who was too young to drive, exited the car, got on their knees, with hands above their heads.

Sgt. Neal was one of the first officers on the scene and took the juvenile victim into custody. The victim did not struggle or pull away according to court documents, and was handcuffed while he laid on his stomach.

Neal and another officer, began to lift the victim, when Neal forced his knee on the back of the victim’s head. This forced his face into the cement, which injured him.

The victim repeatedly stated, “I can’t breathe.”

Once he was brought to his feet, the victim’s injuries were clear and he was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital, where he received treatment.

“I hope all involved in this case and our community will rally around this victim and support him,” said Baker.

The officer has been summoned to appear in court on a future date still to be determined.

I was informed today that an officer from the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department was indicted by a Jackson County grand jury. 

As Chief of Police, when matters that raise concern come to my attention, it’s my responsibility to ensure they are appropriately investigated and that those investigations are turned over for possible further proceedings in the criminal justice process.

In the current matter involving third degree felony assault charges against an officer, we first became aware of the incident following a complaint that was investigated by the Office of Community Complaints (OCC) the Internal Affairs Unit. 

After reviewing that investigative file, we sent the entire file to federal prosecutors, the FBI, and the county prosecutor, as is our responsibility per our civil rights MOU for their independent evaluation of the circumstances.

The officer, an 18-year veteran of the department assigned to the Patrol Bureau, has been on administrative leave following the results of the OCC investigation, and he will continue to be until the outcome of the proceedings. 

All of us want justice. And we remain committed to the legal process going forward.

KCPD Chief Rick Smith

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