Kansas City, MO – Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker recused herself from handling the officer-involved shooting of 31-year-old Malcolm Johnson because her office had previously investigated him as the suspect in another shooting.
The case was passed off to St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell’s office, who assigned a special prosecutor to investigate.
Bell is a former defense attorney who ran for office on a reform platform. After being elected, he re-opened the 2014 Michael Brown shooting case, but after a five-month review of all evidence, he ultimately determined that the shooting was justified.
The Malcolm Johnson shooting occurred on March 25 inside a gas station convenience store located at 63rd Street and Prospect Avenue, The Kansas City Star reported.
Missouri Highway Patrol (MHP), the agency tasked with investigating the shooting, said Kansas City officers tried to arrest Johnson in connection with a domestic violence shooting but he resisted.
Several officers struggled to detain Johnson as he fought violently, The Kansas City Star reported.
MHP said Johnson shot an officer in the leg and the wounded officer returned fire and fatally shot him.
Months later a coalition of pastors came forward in possession of cell phone video that showed a different view of the incident.
The group claimed they tried to take the video to law enforcement but felt dismissed by officials, so they decided to release it to the public, The Kansas City Star reported.
“What I saw was an execution,” Darron Edwards, of United Believers Community Church, said. “We stand on a moral obligation. We want to demand change and we demand it now.”
The cell phone video showed two officers approached Johnson with their weapons drawn as he stood at the store counter scratching off a lottery ticket.
The officers tried to take Johnson’s arms to handcuff him, but he pulled away and dashed toward the door of the store, the video showed.
At least two more officers rushed in and helped the first two officers take Johnson to the ground.
The video showed Johnson continued to struggle and violently resisted arrest even after the officers surrounded him and two of them piled on top of him.
One of the officers appeared to draw their weapon and then a couple seconds later a shot is heard, KCTV reported.
An officer yelled in the video and then hobbled away in pain.
Then two more shots were fired, according to KCTV.
Johnson was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, The Kansas City Star reported.
The wounded officer was treated at the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
“Why would you shoot someone in the head while they are on the floor? Regardless of the sound quality and the video not showing the actual shots, it is clear that the report does not match the video,” Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III, the senior pastor of St. James United Methodist Church and one of the leaders of the faith coalition, said. “We are demanding justice.”
The pastor claimed that there are discrepancies between the MSP’s official statement and what the newly-released cell phone video showed.
“The officers entered the store with guns drawn, which put everyone in the store in danger,” Cleaver said. “They reported that a fight ensued, but the video shows Malcolm trying to run.”
The group said that Johnson appeared to have been restrained when he was shot, and that his family had obtained autopsy photos that showed he had been shot in the head, The Kansas City Star reported.
However, cell phone video shows Johnson wasn’t under control at the time as he fought off the officers.
If Johnson was actually shot in the head, it wouldn’t have any relevance to determining if the shooting was justified.
The faith leaders called for all four officers involved in the incident to be fired immediately, and then criminally charged.
“We do believe in police, but we do not believe in this kind of policing,” Edwards explained. “The culture, the conditions and the climate of Kansas City must change.”
The pastors said that if the state didn’t take action against the officers involved, they were prepared to ask for federal intervention, The Kansas City Star reported.
“We are making those demands and will not stop and we’ll gather the community together peacefully, to do whatever we can to make sure that just happens on behalf of Malcolm Johnson,” Cleaver warned.
You can see the cell phone video below: