Dashcam video released on Monday shows a rookie Kansas police officer shooting and wounding a man during a traffic stop over a suspected seat belt violation on May 29.
Lawrence police officer Brindley Blood, the officer seen in the video shooting the man, has been charge with reckless aggravated battery, a felony, in the Douglas County District Court for shooting 35-year-old Akira Lewis, according to The Kansas City Star.
Blood, who resigned from the Lawrence Police Department on January 28, says the shooting was accidental and maintains she intended to reach for her taser instead of her firearm.
In the video, Lewis can be heard telling officer Ian McCann who stopped him that he was pulled over because he is black.
“I need your diver’s license and your insurance card,” McCann says to Lewis.
“If you give me that, I will get you your citation; I will get you on your way. You will be here for about five minutes or less.”
Lewis insists on speaking to McCann’s supervisor.
“You’re about to go to jail on a seat belt violation. Are you really wanting to do that?” McCann asks Lewis.
“You could give me your driver’s license; I could write you a ticket and you can drive home.”
As he continues to verbally refuse to provide identification and arguing for a supervisor, officer Blood is summoned for back up.
McCann tells Lewis he will not call a supervisor and that if he refuses to comply that he’ll be arrested and taken to jail.
Officer McCann tells Lewis the stop was blocking traffic at a busy time and that he could file a complaint later.
“Go get your f’n supervisor; go get your f’n supervisor,” Lewis tells officer McCann.
“Get the f— out of my face, man. I’m telling you….”
When officer Blood arrives, the two officers unsuccessfully attempt to wrestle Lewis out of his vehicle.
After a struggle inside of the vehicle, Lewis comes out of the vehicle, lifting McCann of his feet and punching him as he flings him to the pavement.
In just a few seconds, Blood runs from the side of the vehicle and draws her gun.
“Taser! Taser! Taser!” she screams after drawing her gun with her right hand from her right hip before firing at Lewis.
Lewis can be heard crying out in pain from being shot.
“Oh, shit, I shot him,” Blood can be heard saying a second later.
Officers Blood and McCann then handcuff Lewis as additional backup officers arrive.
Lewis testified in court last week and admitted he wasn’t wearing his seat belt when McCann pulled him over, but says he still believes he was racially profiled and unfairly stopped.
According to Lewis, McCann passed two white motorists who weren’t wearing seat belts before stopping him.
McCann denies Lewis’ claim in the video.
Shaye Downing, Lewis’ defense attorney, says police escalated a situation that “could have been de-escalated by any number of interventions” instead of denying Lewis’ requests to speak with a supervisor.
Downing says Blood’s apparent mistake of drawing her firearm rather than her taser raises “serious concerns” about officer training on using the appropriate use of force and the weapons they carry.
“It is unfathomable, or at least should be unfathomable to us all that an officer of the community, trained extensively to protect its citizens would be held to a lower standard. Officer Blood’s use of her firearm when the circumstances call for her to use her Taser by her own admission was not only negligent but reckless.”
“Officer Blood made no other attempt to intervene in the altercation and immediately resorted to lethal force against an unarmed man,” Downing said in a written statement.
Attorneys for Blood, Tom Bath and Mike Riling, suggested Lewis was lying about McCann racially profiling him and that he actually refused to hand over his identification because he had outstanding warrants.
Bath and Riling said on Monday they wouldn’t comment on Blood’s pending case or the video.
Lawrence District Attorney Charles Branson also said via email he would not comment on the pending case, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.
Lewis is currently charged with three misdemeanors including driving without proof of insurance, interference with law enforcement and battery against a law enforcement officers as well as a traffic infraction for failure to wear a seat belt.
At the time of the incident, Lewis had outstanding warrants for failure to appear in three older traffic cases.
Downing says Lewis suffered “permanent injuries” from the shooting and has not received any assistance with medical expenses from the city.
Blood is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, March 27.