Protesters call for police chief to be fired after two officers charged with assault

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Protesters rallied outside of police headquarters upset over the arrest of a transgender woman, which resulted in criminal charges filed against two police officers.

A group calling itself Sankofa for KC is upset over what it calls the mishandling of the investigation into the arrest of Breona Hill. They say police Chief Rick Smith should be fired.

Two Kansas City police officers arrested Hill in May of 2019 and a bystander along Brush Creek Boulevard recorded video of part of that arrest.

The witness who took the video claims he saw an officer strike Hill with a closed fist.

And the video shows the two officers kneel on top of Hill as they struggle to place her in handcuffs.

A Jackson County grand jury indicted the officers on charges of fourth degree assault.

Protesters want to organize the community to speak out whenever similar actions are taken against them by police.

“The chief of police agreed with the behavior of these officers and in a statement he said he did not find that they had done anything wrong,” said the Rev. Ester Holzendorf, protest organizer. “The officers lied. There was abuse. The injury was obvious, because when they got Breona to the precinct, an ambulance was called and she was transported to a hospital for treatment.”

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says she was prevented from filing charges against the officers independently, because detectives did not provide prosecutors with a probable cause statement.

The police chief has said that his investigators do not believe the officers broke the law, but police did forward the case file to both federal and county prosecutors, in addition to the FBI.

Protesters are trying to gather in a way that doesn’t violate public health guidelines. The group maintained some separation, and many are wearing masks and gloves.

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