‘Unbelievable again’: Mother of man killed by KCPD officer disappointed in Donnie Sanders case

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City is in the national spotlight after no charges were announced in the police shooting of an unarmed Black man.

More families are speaking out in solidarity with the family of Donnie Sanders and their new push for answers from the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.

“It’s the unbelievable again. I just cannot put it all together … what are they trying to find to say the officer doesn’t have to be charged,” Narene Stokes said.

Stokes said she doesn’t know Donnie Sanders’ family personally, but she said she knows a similar pain. Both families lost loved ones at the hands of Kansas City police officers.

Stokes’ only son, 24-year-old Ryan Stokes, was shot by an officer in the back multiple times during a night out in the Power & Light District in 2013. He was falsely accused of stealing a cellphone.

Ryan Stokes and his 1-year-old daughter

“I knew they wanted to sweep it under the rug immediately when you say Ryan was down at the Power & Light, had a gun and wouldn’t put it down. That’s what you come to my house and tell me,” Stokes said.

“When I get the next story, it’s a 24-year-old Black man, downtown at the Kansas City Power & Light stealing a cellphone. Ryan had his own cellphone. That’s what they found on him when they killed him.”

She said it’s now a shared and understandable grief as Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced her office will not be filing charges against officer who fatally shot Sanders in March 2020.

Stokes said the case summoned a whirlwind of memories of her own son’s death, where the officer was also never charged.

“This is happening right here in Kansas City. We are not with George Floyd or Breonna Taylor and them. I feel for those families, but this right in here in this city, which is called the ‘Show Me State.’ They need to show us something, more than what they are telling us. Somebody got to get the justice going,” Stokes said.

Stokes recently filed an appeal for their wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against the police department and officers involved. She said she’s currently waiting for a trial date.

In the meantime, she said she would like to have a sit-down with the Jackson County prosecutor and all the families of recent police brutality, shootings and excessive force cases.

Stokes said the latest case is another reminder that something needs to be done, either in the police department or prosecutor’s office for there to be change.

“We want justice. That’s the first thing. We need and we want justice for these killings of our loved ones,” Stokes said.

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