The police department in Kansas City, Kansas, issued an updated use-of-force policy in early June, just a few weeks before two deadly police shootings.
The policy, effective June 2, says officers are allowed to use deadly force “to insure the safety of themselves and others from imminent death or great bodily harm.” A previous policy was similar, saying lethal force was authorized “to protect life.”
On June 20, a chase that began in Kansas City, Missouri, crossed the state line. Police said Dario Dominguez, 25, shot at officers, who returned fire, at 18th Street and Parallel Parkway.
Five days later, a man who was allegedly trying to break into a residence near 50th and Vista streets was shot by officers. He was identified as Dennis Delgado, 60.
A woman, who asked not to be identified, said Delgado was her estranged boyfriend and was using a sledgehammer to break through the back door of her home when she called 911.
According to the department’s 18-page policy, officers utilize a “resistance/control continuum.” When possible, officers should use verbal commands.
The woman who called 911 told The Star that officers gave Delgado “fair warning,” repeatedly telling him to drop his gun. She said she didn’t see if Delgado attempted to fire the weapon at police on the scene.
“’Don’t point that weapon at me,’” the woman recalled officers told Delgado during the encounter at her home. “The cops stated over and over, ‘don’t point that over here. Please drop the gun, drop the gun,’ and then just gunfire and it was all over.
According to Kansas City, Kansas, police policy, if resistance continues, “the officer must be prepared to escalate the use of control,” the policy reads. However, “officers must also be prepared to deescalate the force being used.”
Officers are not allowed to fire warning shots at a moving vehicle unless occupants inside the vehicle are using deadly force.
The policy says shoulder pins are authorized while choke holds are considered a lethal force technique.
In cases of lethal force, “the officer will be required to justify the action taken,” the policy says.
The level of force depends on a variety of factors including the type of crime being investigated, if the person has access to weapons or appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and if there are other exigent circumstances.
Officers must fill out a “defensive action report” when they use a Taser, deploy chemical agents, point a weapon at another person or use certain physical maneuvers. The reports are reviewed by a supervisor and sent to the police academy commander. The academy keeps the reports on file for two years.
Body camera videos are also reviewed as part of the investigation.
The Officer Involved Critical Incident Team investigates more serious incidents that result in unconsciousness, hospitalization or death.
The two police shootings this month will be investigated by a task force comprised of the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Department and the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office.
Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department spokeswoman Nancy Chartrand said a committee reviews the department’s policies on a monthly basis and that the latest changes to the use-of-force policy made in June were minor.
There were no fatal police shootings in Kansas City, Kansas, last year. There were two each in 2019 and 2018.