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Prosecutor Rules Donnie Sanders Shooting Justified, Says Suspect’s Behavior Led To Shooting

Kansas City, MO – Prosecutors announced on Monday that the evidence showed the shooting of Donnie Sanders by a Kansas City, Missouri police officer was justified and no charges will be brought against the officer who killed him (video below).

The incident began at about 11:17 p.m. on March 12, 2020 after a Kansas City police officer spotted a Chevy Tahoe driving erratically on Prospect Avenue, according to the investigation report from the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

The officer made a U-turn and followed the suspect vehicle.

Dashcam video released by prosecutors on March 1 showed that when the officer turned on his police lights behind the SUV in an alley parallel to Wabash between 51st and 52nd Street, the suspect fled.

The officer followed the suspect – later identified as Donnie Sanders – to the end of the alley and then Sanders got out of his vehicle and fled on foot, according to the investigation report.

Dashcam video showed the officer jumped out of his vehicle and chased Sanders.

When the officer passed between two parked vehicles, he could no longer be seen but the audio was still recording.

“Hey stop!” the officer yelled in the video.

The audio picked up the sound of the officer chasing Sanders and yelling at him multiple more times to stop and show his hands.

The suspect responded to the officer several times but prosecutors said the recording was unintelligible.

According to the report, the officer said Sanders yelled “I’m gonna shoot you! I’m gonna get you! Better kill me, I’m gonna kill you!”

The officer told investigators that Sanders had his hand up in the air pointing at him and he believed the suspect had a gun, according to the investigative reported.

He said Sanders started coming at him so he opened fire on him.

The investigative report said that multiple witnesses corroborated the officer’s story.

The first witness said they went to their window after they heard screaming and saw the officer telling Sanders to “stop” and to “drop it,” according to the report.

The witness told detectives that they saw “the Civilian moving towards the Officer with his right arm extended and covered with something.”

The investigative report said the second witness “described the Civilian moving towards the Officer with his arm up and ‘pointing whatever it was’ at the Officer. Upon further questioning, Witness 2 indicated that it appeared as though the item in the Civilian’s hand was a gun.”

A third witness told investigators that they saw Sanders point something at his own head and then point it at the officer, according to the prosecutor’s report.

The investigative report said that no weapon was found at the scene but a black cell phone was found in a pocket of Sanders’ jacket.

But the prosecuting attorney’s office made it clear in their report that the fact Sanders didn’t have a gun did not mean the shooting wasn’t justified.

“It is an undisputed fact that the Civilian was unarmed at the time of the shooting,” the report read. “But the law restricts this Committee to evaluating only what was known or reasonably believed prior to or at the time of the shooting. Thus, the fact that the Civilian was found to be unarmed after the shooting is not, by itself, determinative of whether charges should be filed against the Officer.”

The prosecutors found that the officers and the witnesses all gave similar independent statements to investigators.

“The Use of Force Committee finds that the statements corroborate each other,” the report read. “None of the three described the Civilian’s actions leading up to the shooting as communicating a desire to surrender, or an assurance that he meant no harm.”

“Both civilian witnesses reported that, after the multiple commands, as the Civilian proceeded towards the Officer with his hand up, the back-pedaling Officer fired multiple shots,” the investigative report said.

Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker concluded the report by explaining why the shooting was justified under Missouri law.

“Accordingly, we do not believe the facts and law support charges here,” Bakers wrote.

Watch the incident unfold in the video below:

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Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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