Two police officers in Kansas City, Mo., are finally facing assault charges for using excessive force on a black transgender woman, including slamming her face into the concrete in an incident that was captured on video a year ago.
Prosecutors indicted Matthew Brummett and Charles Prichard on a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault last Friday. The Kansas City Police Department had initially declined to pursue charges against the officers who were seen on video kneeing 30-year-old Breona Hill in the face, torso and ribs while she cried and moaned in pain, according to the New York Times.
Hill, who was shot and killed last October in an unrelated shooting, had reportedly been involved in a dispute at a beauty supply store that led the store owner to call 911.
A man who was driving by at the time said he saw an officer punch a woman and began recording video footage of the arrest with his phone.
The video shows Officer Brummett twice slam Ms. Hill’s face to the sidewalk before dropping his knee onto her neck and right shoulder, a sequence of events that was “in contrast to the officers’ statements” about the arrest, the prosecutor’s office said.
Chief Rick Smith of the Kansas City Police Department said in a statement on Friday that the two officers had been placed on “administrative assignment until the outcome of the proceedings.” Investigators in the Police Department found no probable cause to conclude that the law had been broken, he said.
In a statement released on Friday, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said her office was forced to bring the case to a grand jury for the cops to be indicted because the KCPD refused to file charges against them.
“Several years ago, my office shifted our policy so we only engaged the grand jury on cases where a credibility determination must be made,” Baker said. “This case is particularly disappointing that my office was prevented from filing the charge independent of a Grand Jury.”
Thankfully, the members of the jury did not agree with President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 99 Brad Lemon, who called the misdemeanor charges against the two officers unjustified because the police department’s internal investigation determined that Hill “purposefully struck her head against the concrete.”
Black transgender women continue to be the target of violence. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Hill was one of at least 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people who were killed in 2019.