By HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH Associated Press
MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas City, Missouri, police officers face assault charges for allegedly slamming a transgender woman’s face into a concrete sidewalk during an arrest that was captured on video.
GRAPHIC WARNING: Family of Missouri Police Brutality Victim Speak, Video Credit: WDAF, Roderick Reed via CNN
A grand jury indicted Matthew Brummett, 37, and Charles Prichard, 47, on one misdemeanor charge each of fourth-degree assault related to the May 24, 2019, physical encounter, the Jackson County prosecutor’s office announced Friday.
The video, recorded by a passerby outside a beauty supply store, shows the officers kneeing the woman in the face, torso and ribs and forcing her arms over her head while handcuffed. The woman was black; the officers are white.
The woman has since died after being shot in October at a Kansas City home, and a man has been charged in her death. She went by various first names, including Brianna or Brionna, Bebe, and Briya. Her surname was Hill.
Prosecutors said police arrested Hill after she got into a dispute with someone at the beauty supply store. Both she and the store’s owner called 911, and the owner asked officers to remove Hill. The officers said Hill was resisting arrest when they took her to the ground outside the store.
Hill was ticketed for trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Brummett and Prichard maintain that they used reasonable force, according to a statement from their attorneys.
“They vehemently dispute the basis of these charges and believe they will be ultimately exonerated in Court,” the statement said.
Police Chief Rick Smith announced late Friday that both officers have been placed on “administrative assignment until the outcome of the proceeding.”
A Kansas City Police Department investigation determined the officers did nothing wrong, according to the police union. The Jackson County prosecutor’s office said it brought the case to a grand jury because police declined to provide prosecutors with a probable cause statement, which is normally submitted by a detective at the conclusion of an investigation.
An attorney who represents Hill’s family, David Smith, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Saturday that he believes the police chief mishandled the investigation and he called for him to resign. David Smith and Rick Smith are not related.
“You don’t treat this woman like a piece of trash because you think she is a freak,” David Smith said.