The KCK Police Department is reviewing the actions of at least one officer who arrested a man following a high-speed chase that crossed into Missouri.
This comes as KCK police revealed Wednesday that the suspect had a 10-year-old child in the vehicle with him during the chase that went on highways and side streets. The suspect is facing drug charges as well as fleeing from police, assault and aggravated child endangerment.
A retired FBI agent who reviewed the video with a KCTV5 reporter said it does not appear that excessive force was used by any of the officers involved in the arrest.
The chase ended Tuesday evening in the 1300 block of Minnesota Avenue. The 20-minute chase began near Rowland Avenue and Quindaro Boulevard. The suspect hit a driver in Missouri, police said.
Police deployed stop sticks, which eventually led to tires being shredded and the suspect abandoning the vehicle. As officers were pursuing him on foot and vehicle, the suspect leaped a fence and tried to run across a parking lot.
In the video, as he trips, he then rolls to the ground and lays on the concrete. He then appeared to get to his knees and make the sign of the cross. After making the gesture, he lays back down on his stomach on the concrete and put his hands behind his back as if ready to be handcuffed.
The first officer races to his prone body. Some KCTV5 viewers say it looks like the officer knees the suspect in the head.
Michael Tabman, a former FBI agent, said momentum looks to have carried the officer and the officer was trying to keep his balance. The officer struck the suspect in the head a couple of times.
"What I think happened here is, I think, his momentum carried him into the subject. He was trying to brace him with his knee and basically sit on his head and neck, which is appropriate police procedure," Tabman explained.
Two other officers then rush to the prone man with the second officer sitting on his legs while the third officer handcuffs him. As the third officer is handcuffing the suspect, the first officer appears to be holding the suspect's face against the concrete.
The suspect does not appear to resist physically during the arrest.
Tabman said in an interview with KCTV5's Jeanene Kiesling that the officers used the appropriate arrest procedures.
"I don't see any abusive or excessive force here," he said. "I think he was trying to brace himself and maintain his balance on the subject and make sure he did not get up again. Those did not look like very hard hits to the head. It did not look like overly aggressive or intentionally to afflict pain. I think he was trying to maintain control and keep his balance as he was falling over."
Some KCTV5 viewers have raised questions about the officers' actions during Tuesday's arrest after seeing the video from Chopper5.
"The incident is being reviewed," the KCK Police Department said in a terse news release.
The department didn't say whether the actions of all three officers or just the first officer are being reviewed.
About five years ago, a KCK officer faced criticism for punching a suspect during an arrest also captured via a news helicopter. Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman reviewed the officer's actions and some months later declined to press charges.
A second man in the vehicle during Tuesday's chase was also arrested, and the child was found in the back seat.
KCK police said that in Tuesday's chase the driver refused to stop for police and swerved in an attempt to hit an officer. The driver led police out of KCK northbound on Highway 9 into North Kansas City before turning around and heading into the River Market area of Kansas City, MO. KCMO police tried to help KCK in the chase but never got into position to follow the car. As the chase went over the James Street Bridge heading back into KCK, the suspect struck another car, but no injuries were reported.
Tabman said officers don't know what to expect from someone who has been actively running from officers.
"You have to understand we are up against people who are aggressive and have a propensity for avoiding arrest, and we don't know what action they will take to do that," he told Kiesling.
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