Residents in Kansas City, Mo., gathered in protest in front of Kansas City Police Headquarters on Friday after video footage went viral that showed police officers detaining a Black woman who is reportedly nine months pregnant. Protesters are accusing one officer of using excessive force and putting the woman and her unborn child in harm’s way by placing his knee on her back while she was on the ground. They are now calling for that officer to be fired.
NBC 12 reports that the woman identified as 25-year-old Deja Stallings was being arrested for intervening with the arrest of a man who refused to leave a property after he was instructed to do so. According to NBC, Stallings “allegedly grabbed and touched responding officers” and was being taken into custody for physically interfering.
But protesters say that there is no justification for the rough way she was taken to the ground and handled by responding officers.
“The most recent act of brutality of a pregnant woman, an unborn child, is yet another example of the culture of brutality, callousness and disregard for the citizens of our community,” said Kevin Woolfolk with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Protesters are calling for the officer involved to be fired and for Kansas City Police Chief Richard Smith to resign.
“This cannot and will not be dismissed, this double assault on humanity,” said Rev. Rodney Williams, president of the Kansas City chapter of the NAACP.
According to the Kansas City Star, attorney Stacy Shaw—who posted multiple videos of the altercation taken at the scene to social media—spoke through a megaphone during the protest to ask officers inside the headquarters a simple question: “Is this what Back the Blue is supporting?”
Of course, the responding officers at the scene maintain that the footage Shaw posted doesn’t show everything that happened and they claim no real pressure was applied to Stallings’ back.
From the Star:
At a press conference, Kansas City police spokesman Capt. Dave Jackson said a security officer for a business at 35th Street and Prospect Avenue called police on a group of 15-20 people fighting around 11 p.m. Wednesday. Officers tried to arrest one man who was refusing to leave, Jackson said, when the group of people stopped them.
The man then tried to run away, tripped, and police tried to arrest the man when two others interfered, Jackson said. Police pulled that man and the pregnant woman off of the first man.
The pregnant woman, Jackson said, resisted arrest. An officer first tried to arrest her while standing, before taking her to the ground. Jackson said the officer did not apply pressure from his knee to the woman’s back, but kept his weight on his foot. She was then handcuffed and moved to a seated position.
But Shaw tells a different story claiming that Stallings was attending a balloon release for a homicide victim and was filming the arrest when the officer bumped into her and then pushed her to the ground. It’s unclear where Shaw got that information as she said she saw video footage of the arrest but wasn’t on the scene.
“Why was it necessary to handcuff and to put a knee on a pregnant woman’s back when she is nine months pregnant? What sort of monsters would do that to a pregnant woman?” Shaw asked the Star reports. “There is no end to the brutality and the lack of humanity from the Kansas City Police Department. There will be no end until we imagine a different type of community safety.”
Jackson didn’t identify the man who was arrested but said that he had been booked and that Stallings was “arrested for hindering and interfering and that she was evaluated and released from a hospital,” the Star reports.