Criminal trial for KC police sergeant accused of assaulting teen set for November 2022

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The criminal trial for a Kansas City police sergeant accused of felony assault when he allegedly smashed the face of a 15-year-old boy in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant has been set for Nov. 14, 2022, a Jackson County judge announced Friday.

A Jackson County grand jury indicted Sgt. Matthew T. Neal for third-degree assault related to an encounter Nov. 14, 2019, in the parking lot at 51st Street and Troost Avenue.

The teen suffered a gash on his head, bruising and broken teeth. As he was lying on the ground, Neal allegedly forced his knee on the back of the teen’s head.

The teen was heard saying “I can’t breathe,” according to court records.

Neal has pleaded not guilty, remains free on bond and is on active duty with the police department.

At the brief court hearing Friday, Jackson County prosecutors said they have been in discussions with Neal’s defense attorney, Molly Hastings, on a possible resolution.

“We’ve had some discussions about the potential of a deposition that may further that process a little more,” Dion Sankar, an assistant Jackson County prosecutor, told Circuit Court Judge S. Margene Burnett.

No other details were discussed. Burnett then mentioned scheduling a series of court hearings leading up to the criminal trial. Burnett said she would request a pool of about 70 potential jurors.

In January, the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners agreed to pay $725,000 to settle an excessive use of force allegation against the police department and Neal.

A petition for civil settlement was also filed against Officer Dylan Pifer, who was involved in the incident with Neal.

Neal is one of five Kansas City police officers who have faced criminal charges in Jackson County Circuit Court. Those charges involved a fatal shooting and cases of excessive force.

Det. Eric DeValkenaere, who was found guilty earlier this month in the Dec. 3, 2019 shooting death of Cameron Lamb, was one of them. DeValkenaere is scheduled to be sentenced on March 4, 2022.

The jury trial for Neal had been scheduled for Nov. 15, but has been delayed.

According to court records, the teen was a passenger in a car that fled as police tried to pull it over.

The car pulled into the parking lot of Go-Chicken-Go. The driver and the teen exited the vehicle and got on their knees with their hands up, according to prosecutors.

The teen did not struggle or pull away, prosecutors said, adding that Neal pressed his knee into the teen’s head and neck, pinning the teen’s face into the pavement and forcing him to struggle to breathe.

The teen was not arrested and was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital, where he received six stitches near his hairline, according to prosecutors.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker holds photo evidence showing broken teeth of a 15-year-old who was allegedly kneeled on by a Kansas City police sergeant last November. A Jackson County grand jury indicted Matthew T. Neal on August 21, 2020, for third-degree assault.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker holds photo evidence showing broken teeth of a 15-year-old who was allegedly kneeled on by a Kansas City police sergeant last November. A Jackson County grand jury indicted Matthew T. Neal on August 21, 2020, for third-degree assault.
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