A pregnant woman was seriously injured on Friday after Kansas City police shot at her five times even though she held her hands up and explained that she couldn't get on the ground because she was pregnant, a witness told The Kansas City Star. A witness, identified only by her first name, Shédanja, told the newspaper she took her three children with her to get gas and ice cream. She heard police yelling, "Get out the car!" from the parking lot of a Family Dollar store where her car was parked. A man and woman, later identified as Leonna Hale, 26, exited a car next to Shédanja’s. The man jumped over a nearby fence and ran, but Hale put her hands up, Shédanja said. Hale told police there was a gun in the vehicle, Shédanja explained, and after police told Hale to get on ground, Hale told them that she was pregnant and couldn't.
“She did not pull out a weapon on them,” Shédanja said. “She did not even have a stick in her hand.”
But when Hale stepped toward the fence and ran three steps, officers shot at her five times, injuring her, Shédanja told The Kansas City Star. Shédanja asked the officers why they shot the woman, but didn’t get an answer.
RELATED STORY: Eleven years after retirement, corrupt Kansas City detective Roger Golubski faces federal scrutiny
Update: Leonna Hale, the woman who was shot and injured by KCMO police is not pregnant and bodycam footage appeared to show her with a gun.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement Wednesday that a 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 showing Hale with what appeared to be a firearm in her right hand. She was charged with unlawful firearm possession, exhibiting a firearm and resisting arrest.
Read more at: https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article262096057.html#storylink=cpy
“One, two, three, four, five. I remember it because it didn’t stop. They shot five times,” Shédanja told The Star on Saturday. “I remember seeing her hit the ground and I froze.”
Joseph Mabin, interim police chief of the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD), told the news station the department never wants this kind of situation. “Anytime it happens is a blight on our community,” Mabin said. “I want to ensure the public the scene is secure. There’s no ongoing threat. We’re committed to being 100% transparent. This is a holiday weekend. It’s time for friends. Not a time for violence.”
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating the incident, which they say was in response to a report of a suspected carjacking.
Shédanja told The Star that officers handcuffed Hale even after shooting her. Shédanja took video footage of the aftermath of the shooting.
Warning: This video contains footage of police handcuffing Hale after shooting her. It may be triggering for some viewers.
The Kansas City Defender, a Black media nonprofit, reported early Tuesday that Hale was taken to the hospital and is in severe but stable condition with a broken arm and collapsed lung. She still has two bullets lodged in her body, the news nonprofit reported.
Those responding to news of the shooting on social media drew early comparisons to how police were repeatedly able to nonviolently apprehend white suspects accused in mass shootings—like 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron, the man accused of intentionally targeting Black people in a massacre that killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Steve Cox, a former Independent candidate for Congress, tweeted of Hale: "She’d have been safer if, instead of being unarmed and pregnant, she were armed in a school shooting children."
Other social media users compared the police shooting injuring Hale to one that killed Malcolm Johnson in Kansas City last year.
“Malcolm Johnson was an unarmed Black man murdered on March 25th, 2021 by KCPD,” the Kansas City Defender tweeted. Similar to Hale’s case, local media outlets and the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that he had been armed and posed a threat to the police. But what really happened?
”Video leaked by convenience store employees showed several cops restraining Johnson in a way that would have made it physically impossible for him to fight back. One cop drew her weapon, accidentally shot another cop in the leg, and then fired several shots into Johnson’s back.”
Leslie Mac, a digital strategist and activist, pointed out the “cruelty” in how police treated Hale and called for police departments to be defunded—the rallying cry of activists who are sick and tired of hearing stories of police brutality in Black and brown communities. They instead want substantial portions of policing budgets redirected to fund preventative, mental health, and social services.
RELATED STORY: City tries defunding police, and people in mental health crises are actually treated like people
Mac tweeted on Monday: “What was #LeonnaHale & the other person driving the car suspected of? ‘suspicion of a stolen vehicle’. We keep telling you that the police were created maintain white supremacy, keep Black people in line & protect white property. DASSIT. #DefundThePolice”
Mac also said of Hale’s case: “There is no reforming this. #AbolitonNow”
Sign the petition to all U.S. mayors: Defund the police, invest in our communities
RELATED STORY: Biden gives up on Congress when it comes to police reform and plans to sign executive order instead