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Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has pardoned a man who was convicted of failing to obey a lawful order after he filmed police officers arresting a transgender woman in what appeared to be a violent struggle.
On May 24, 2019, Roderick Reed was walking by the Beauty Essence store on Brush Creek Boulevard in Kansas City when he saw 30-year-old Breona Hill on the ground, and two officers on top of her. So he grabbed his cell phone and began filming the arrest.
“I was in so disbelief. Like, ‘Wow. What to do.’ I was in panic mode,” Reed told FOX affiliate WDAF-TV. “I didn’t know what to do. I’d never seen nothing like this before.”
The video appears to show Hill struggling as the officers try and subdue her. At one point, her head slams into the concrete sidewalk, and the two officers are seen using their knees to try and restrain her.
Reed said the police told him to stop filming, but he refused.
“I stood firm, and I continued to video,” he said. “The officer was so upset that I was not afraid to leave like he was telling me to, to keep videoing because I didn’t want him to kill Breona.”
Reed was ticketed for a traffic violation and for failure to obey a lawful order. The first charge was thrown out by a judge, but Reed was convicted of the second charge. He appealed that conviction and was hoping to have his case reheard.
The footage from his cell phone video was used to bring charges of fourth-degree assault for excessive force against the officers, Matthew Brummett and Charles Prichard, last week.
The officers claim that they received a call from the owner of a beauty supply store who had gotten into an altercation with Hill and was demanding that police remove her from the premises.
A representative of the Fraternal Order of Police defended the officers, telling the New York Times that Hill resisted arrest and hit her own head on the sidewalk, and that the charges against the officers are “unjustified.”
Both officers have been placed on administrative leave until the charges against them have been resolved.
Hill was later killed in an unrelated shooting only months after her arrest. A suspect has since been charged with her murder.
After months of legal wrangling for Reed, Lucas announced last Thursday that he would be using his position as mayor to pardon Reed, indicating
“I feel that it’s necessary for us to move on beyond it and ensure that people know that they have a right to film police conduct, and they have a right to make sure that is shared more broadly,” Lucas said in a press conference last Thursday.
Reed told WDAF-TV that he’d prefer a personal apology from the mayor. However, he says he’s not sorry he continued filming and has been vindicated in the court of public opinion.
“I feel any good American citizen would have done the same thing,” he said.
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