Video: Kan. LEO mistakenly uses gun instead of TASER at traffic stop

Associated Press

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Dashcam video released Monday shows a Kansas police officer shooting and wounding a man in a case in which the rookie officer told investigators she mistakenly fired her firearm instead of her Taser.

The video provided in response to an open records request is from the patrol vehicle of an officer who pulled over 35-year-old Akira Lewis for a suspected seatbelt violation in May 2018 near downtown Lawrence, the Lawrence Journal-World report ed. Lewis is heard in the video telling the white officer that he was pulled over because he is black and insists on seeing a supervisor. When he refuses to provide identification and continues arguing, backup officer Brindley Blood was summoned.

She is seen shooting Lewis when he punches and tackles the officer who initiated the traffic stop. Blood, who resigned from the police force in January after being placed on paid leave, is charged with aggravated battery. Lewis was treated at a hospital and is charged with several misdemeanors, including battery against a law enforcement officer.

The affidavit in the case against Blood said she didn't realize she had shot Lewis until she looked for the Taser wires to see if they had hit their mark and realized there weren't any. She said during her interview with investigators, "I shot, shot him, I pulled my firearm instead of my Taser," the affidavit said.

The city initially denied the Journal-World's request for the video, saying at that time the materials were "part of an ongoing investigation" and "criminal investigation records." The newspaper again requested the video last week, after it was played in Douglas County District Court during a hearing for Blood.

Judge Peggy Kittel is weighing whether to bind Blood over for trial. Her attorneys argue that while Blood made a mistake she was not reckless, as the charge alleges, and that the case against her should be dropped. Kittel is scheduled to announce her ruling later this week.

Lewis' attorney, Shaye Downing, said in a statement Monday that during the officers' attempt to arrest Lewis for a "seatbelt violation" the officers "initiated physical contact and escalated a situation that could have been easily de-escalated by any number of interventions."

"After this incident, there are serious concerns about the training officers receive and ongoing certification required to ensure that if an officer is faced with a situation where force is used, that they use only that level of force reasonably necessary for the given circumstances," Downing said.

She also said Lewis has not received any help from the city of Lawrence for medical expenses for injuries he suffered during the confrontation.