A Kansas police chief said that he was so concerned that his department was “contaminating” police shooting probes that he took several steps to address the issue, including continuing to employ allegedly corrupt officers, keeping broken policies in place and—most importantly—keeping all of this a secret.
According to the Associated Press, newly filed documents in a civil suit against police in Wichita, Kan., contained excerpts from a May 24 deposition of Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay (not that Gordon Ramsay). Although Ramsay shares his name with the chef famous for yelling at his staff, the Wichita chief kept his mouth shut about his concerns that investigations into police brutality and use of force were unfair and biased.
In the deposition, Ramsay admits that after he took the job in 2016, he noticed that investigators looking into on-duty shootings often asked leading questions that prompted fellow officers to claim self-defense. Ramsay reportedly said he specifically had “concerns” about the integrity of the Professional Standards Bureau’s investigations into deadly force. The Bureau is the body that determines if officers violated police policy.
The AP reports:
One of the investigations that concerned him involved the 2015 shooting of John Paul Quintero after two officers responded to a family member’s home to handle a report over a disturbance with a knife. Quintero, 23, was hit with stun gun shocks and was unarmed when police officer Jamie Thompson shot him twice from behind with an M4 assault rifle. Police have said Quintero failed to follow orders and appeared to be reaching for his waistband when she fired.
In his deposition, Ramsay acknowledged he had concerns about the Quintero investigation in part because of the way the Professional Standards Bureau detective framed a leading question when interviewing her partner about that shooting. The detective asked the officer if he perceived the statement “I’ve got one for you, I’ll get you” from Quintero to Thompson as a threat, to which the officer responded that he did. The detective never asked whether the officers heard Quintero’s father tell them his son was unarmed before the shooting.
Ramsay acknowledges that he didn’t fire or discipline any of the officers involved, instead, he quietly moved them around to positions “based on their strengths and where they could best serve the department.” He readily admitted that he didn’t know why the officers used a rifle on Quintero in the first place and revealed that he talked to his cops about when to use rifles. But when asked if he amended the department’s written policy about the use of rifles, he conceded that he had made no changes.
Those details are important considering that the lawsuit that uncovered these facts due to the “SWAT-ing” death of Andrew Finch. In 2017, two online gamers got into a dispute and one of the gamers made a hoax call to police. Finch, who lived at the gamer’s old address, had no idea what was going on when police arrived. When he opened the door to see what was happening outside, a police sniper shot the unarmed Finch from 50 yards away…
With a rifle.
Ramsay also acknowledged that the officers who worked on the internal reviews into police shootings sometimes got involved in the criminal cases, thereby “potentially contaminating” the investigations. He confessed that his department had a “wide range of issues,” including their “philosophy of use of force, how we treat staff, how we handle these cases.”
“A recent Associated Press article speaks about removing high-ranking officers and detectives regarding probes of police shootings,” said Ramsay in a statement rebutting the Associated Press’ report. “Please remember the deposition referenced is only an excerpt of a larger deposition. The department members involved are good officers and good employees, striving to reach the goals of the WPD.“
Aside from the two above-mentioned police shootings, in 2013, the names of about 30 Wichita officers wound up on a list of cops who had committed crimes or violations involving dishonesty. The FBI launched a separate investigation into an alleged cover-up involving Wichita Police Department officers’ misconduct in 2017, the Wichita Eagle reports. In 2018, two Wichita cops were indicted in an illegal gambling and public corruption case.
In his statement, Ramsay noted that his officers “committed no legal or WPD internal violations,” warning that “taking a snippet from a deposition that lasted hours and drawing conclusions does not give full context and unnecessarily hurts the good name of our investigators.”
Citing the safety of officers, in May, Ramsay persuaded the Citizens Review Board to not release the names of officers involved in police shootings. On Friday night, off-duty WPD officer Andrew Tapia was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. On Sunday night, Wichita police officers shot a man who officers say “displayed aggressiveness.”
Nah, Ramsay. I think it was the Wichita Police Department’s officers who hurt the WPD’s “good name.”