KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Attorneys for the Jackson County man shot and killed last year by Independence police are calling for federal prosecutors to take on the case.
It comes after Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker decided not to file charges or send this case to a grand jury. The man killed was 39-year-old Tyrea Pryor. The incident happened in March 2022.
“I was woken up by my mother at 2 o’clock in the morning, and I heard that my father was killed by the police,” Tyrea Pryor Jr. said Thursday in a news conference outside the Jackson County Courthouse.
Pryor Jr. was joined by his family’s attorney Harry Daniels. They believe Independence police officers Jamie Welsh and Hunter Soule are responsible for the death. Their gunshots that March 11, 2022, night killed Pryor.
“They killed him over a pistol that did not exist,” Daniels said.
“The men and women of the Independence Police Department are sworn to keep people safe and when there is a fatality, it weighs heavily on all of us,” Independence Police Chief Adam Dustman said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
“Any loss of life is tragic. Each instance in which our officers utilize force of any kind is reviewed and evaluated to help us adapt training. Further, any officer-involved shooting is reviewed by an external agency and then evaluated by the relevant Prosecutor’s Office. We are constantly working to improve our ability to respond to intense situations and ensure our officers are prepared to provide the services needed during any call they receive.”
The fact about a pistol not existing is not disputed by Baker’s office, but there was an assault rifle in the car that night.
In an 11-page letter released Thursday, Baker said the officers were wrong in thinking Pryor was moving a pistol, but the law requires her office to demonstrate that the officer’s use of force was unreasonable at the moment they used it. Baker said that evidence is insufficient.
Broadcastify recordings released after the shooting accused Pryor of firing shots at police during the chase before he was eventually killed. But in the prosecutor’s report released Thursday, there was no mention of that. Attorneys for Pryor’s family dispute it as well.
They also said Pryor was incapacitated after the crash.
“He was actually trapped,” Daniels said Thursday. “That does not give anyone the right to shoot and kill. The threat has to be an imminent threat. Just because you commit an act down the street don’t give you the right to kill you on the other block if you’re no longer a threat.”
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The U.S. Department of Justice will not say whether it will investigate the deadly police shooting. Daniels said civil lawsuits will be filed regardless of whether federal prosecutors take on the case.