KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Jackson County prosecutor will not press charges against the Kansas City officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black man in March 2020.
Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said the “evidence collected is insufficient to support charges” against the unidentified officer who killed 47-year-old Donnie Sanders.
After pulling Sanders over for a traffic stop, police said he got out and took off running. One block away, the officer told investigators that Sanders turned and held his hand up toward him “as if he’s got a gun.”
The officer ordered Sanders to drop the weapon and get on the ground, and when Sanders moved forward, the officer fired his weapon as he stepped backward, killing the 47-year-old.
Police later determined Sanders was not armed. He had a cell phone that was concealed in his pocket.
“He never carried a gun his whole life. Donnie never carried a gun,” Donnie Sanders’ uncle, Mark Sanders, said in a previous interview with FOX4.
Two witnesses said they saw the shooting or the moments just before the shooting, Peters Baker said Monday, and they generally corroborated the officer’s account. One said it appeared Sanders was pointing a gun at the officer, and the other said Sanders had his arm extended and was moving toward the officer.
In October, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office asked the Missouri State Highway Patrol to review the shooting after the police department submitted its findings.
Peters Baker said MSHP took additional steps to make sure all evidence was collected, analyzed and reported, including enhancing audio recordings and canvassing for witnesses as recently as last week.
The prosecutor also asked for outside reviews from two other district attorney offices, who both determined no charges should be filed in this matter.
Peters Baker said she realizes there is a lot of public in this case, but her review is limited to filing criminal charges, “which requires the highest possible legal standard in the system.”
“Our review, by law, does not directly touch on other concerns, like policy implications, whether new policy is needed, whether the officer’s employment is impacted or any civil action on the part of the victim’s family or the department.”
Many of Sanders’ family members have speaking out against police brutality and calling for accountability and transparency in the Kansas City Police Department.
“All we want is justice, just like everybody else,” Shontae Hendricks, Sanders’ cousin, said in June. “It happens in different states, but right here in Kansas City, in our community, we want people to know it happens here, too.”
In her decision, Peters Baker released video via KCPD of the moments leading up to the deadly shooting. You can see the footage in the video player below.
Warning: While it does not show the shooting, some viewers might find this footage disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.