Standing near where 26-year-old Leonna Hale was shot and seriously injured by two Kansas City Police officers, her mother and civil and human rights activists on Thursday called on authorities to release videos and not just a photo from the police shooting.
Rev. Timothy Hayes, pastor of the 24-hour Faith Training Center in Kansas City, said Hale is a not only a suspect, she’s a victim.
“We’re not here to argue her innocence that she was not involved in a crime, but we’re here to say that that was not worth her being shot,” said Hayes. “We’re here to get justice for just not her but for the whole community.”
Two police officers shot Hale Friday night in the parking lot of a Family Dollar store near Sixth Street and Prospect Avenue as they tried to arrest her and a man in connection with a suspected carjacking.
Hale was charged Wednesday with unlawful firearm possession, exhibiting a firearm and resisting arrest.
The shooting sparked outrage and gained national attention after a witness told The Star that Hale appeared to be unarmed and told police she was pregnant.
Hayes said Thursday that Hale is not pregnant.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement Wednesday that their review of the police body camera videos showed that Hale “continually displayed a weapon during her encounter with police officers” before she was shot.
The prosecutor’s office also released an image of Hale showing her with what appeared to be a firearm in her right hand.
Hayes challenged the image, saying it raises questions that can only be answered by releasing the video. Hayes also questioned why police didn’t use less lethal options.
“She did not deserve to be shot,” Hayes said.
There needs to be a complete and thorough investigation into the police shooting, said Rev. Kirsten John Foy, president and founder of The Arc of Justice, a civil and human rights group based in New York.
Foy, who was in Kansas City and has spoken with Hale’s family, said that it’s become clear to him there is a great deal of skepticism not only among Hale’s family but others in the community.
“The Kansas City Police Department has a very storied and colored history and their relationship is strained because there’s a lack of transparency and there’s a lack of integrity on how they police the community,” Foy said.
The videos need to be released, he said.
“Not just in the interest of this particular case, but in the interest of the relationship that the police department has with this community,” he said.