The Wichita Police Department has a firm policy of never revealing the names of the officers involved in the shooting deaths of civilians, regardless of the circumstances. As members of this community, we feel that the public has a right to know which officers on the force have shot people, and that the public has a right to know as much information as possible about these tragedies.
With that goal in mind, we have identified a list of Wichita police officers who fired their weapons in situations that resulted in death. Based on information that we have compiled through witness testimony, Kansas Open Records Act requests, and news stories, we feel that some of these officers made terrible mistakes, while others simply fired their weapons without just cause.
The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office makes the final rulings on whether or not Wichita police shootings are justified. There has never been a Wichita police shooting that the DA did not justify. Not one, ever.
The Wichita Police Department claims that when one of its officers is involved in a shooting, three separate investigations take place, one by the department, one by the Kansas Bureau of Investigations (KBI) and one by the Sedgwick County District Attorney. However, as one local attorney puts it, “the WPD conducts the investigation, the KBI sends down an investigator who twiddles his thumbs while WPD does the work, and then the DA rubber stamps it”.
The Wichita Police Department claims that it will not release the names of officers involved in shootings, because doing so could jeopardize ongoing investigations. However, the department has no problem releasing the names of civilian suspects in murder cases. The department also claims that releasing these names may endanger the lives of the officers. This second rationale weighs heavy on our minds as we release this information.
Are we endangering the lives of these officers? Or does withholding this information endanger the lives of the public, as well as the other officers? How can officers safely do their jobs when the public they serve cannot trust the department to hold officers accountable for their mistakes, and for their misconduct? Ultimately, we have decided to release this information, in the name of transparency. The community, as a whole, is safer when we know the truth than we are when we are kept in the dark.
The shooting death of Marquez Smart:
Marquez Smart was shot to death by multiple officers in Old Town, in March of 2012. Police allege that Smart, a man with no criminal record and no ties to gangs, opened fire on a crowd of people as they left the clubs in the area. However, there is no physical evidence tying Smart to the gun. The only evidence the department has against Smart is that he was wearing a yellow shirt, and the shooter was also wearing a yellow shirt.
The police officers, in their attempt to subdue the shooter, wounded multiple people, but Smart was the only fatality. One of the other people wounded that night was also wearing a yellow shirt, according to a lawsuit filed by Smart’s family. Witnesses claim that officers opened fire on Smart and then shot him “execution style”, while he was lying on the ground. Their testimony was not included in the DA’s report.
The officers who shot and killed Marquez Smart are Aaron Chaffee and Lee Froese. They are identified in the federal lawsuit filed by Smart’s family.
The shooting death of Karen Jackson:
Karen Jackson was shot to death by Wichita police officers in July of 2012 after officers were sent to her home to respond to a domestic call. Due Jackson, 45, was under a no contact order with her husband, who called 911 to report that his wife had come to the house. Jackson’s husband only called officers because he did not want to get in trouble for being in the same place as his wife.
Within less than a minute of their arrival on the scene, officers opened fire on Jackson, who they claim was holding a knife, a purse, and a liquor bottle. Officer claim that Jackson was stabbing herself and begging officers to shoot her, and that she then rushed towards them. According to Jackson’s family, due to her bad hips, she was generally confined to a wheel chair or electric scooter, and was not physically capable of charging towards the officers with any measure of speed.
Jackson suffered from mental health issues, a fact that was known to the department prior to this incident. Protocol requires that a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) should be deployed when a suspect or individual is known to have a history of mental health issues. CIT officers have special training in methods of verbally deescalating situations involving those who suffer from mental illness. This protocol was not followed.
On that night, Jackson’s electricity was shut-off, which made their home extremely dark that night. It is unknown why officers did not utilize their tasers, or simply blind Jackson with their flashlights. The officers’ story of Jackson charging towards them with a knife is hard to believe, given Jackson’s documented physical disability.
The officers who shot Karen Jackson are Elizabeth Martin and Bryan Knowles.
The shooting death of Troy Lanning II:
In April of 2011, former Wichita Police officer Randy Williamson shot Troy Lanning II, who was unarmed and running away, in the back. Lanning died of his wounds. Williamson has been placed on “medical retirement” after confessing to making false statements in a separate shooting he was involved in.
The Sedgwick County District Attorney has still not released a ruling in this case despite the fact that the shooting took place over two years ago. We are still paying Williamson full retirement benefits despite the fact he confessed to a crime and shot an unarmed man in the back. The Lanning family has been offered no explanation by either the Wichita Police Department, nor the Sedgwick County DA’s office.
The shooting death of Timothy Collins Jr.:
Timothy Freeborn Collins Jr. was shot to death by Wichita police officers in April of 2011, while fleeing from a robbery. Collins, 17, was unarmed, and, according to witness statements, had not planned on being involved in a robbery, but was simply in the car with his sister’s older boyfriend when they decided to commit the crime. Collins reportedly told the victim that he did not want to be there.
When police arrived on scene, one of the officers was wearing an Axon body camera, but that officer was located in the front of the house. The shooting took place in the back of the home, after Collins fled out of the backdoor. Initially, police claim they yelled “stop police”, but the audio record from the police camera shows that officers opened fire without any verbal warning. Collins was struck in the back of the head with gunfire. The officers may have panicked when a motion sensor activated a porch light, which may have startled the officers.
The officers who opened fire on Timothy Collins Jr. are Shannon Dunkel and Robert Schmeidler. These officers were identified in the trials of the surviving defendants in the robbery case.
The shooting death of Icarus Randolph:
Iraq war veteran Icarus Randolph was shot to death by a Wichita police officer on July 4th, 2014. Due to the noise created by fireworks, Independence Day is often hard for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder to endure. Randolph’s family called ComCare to get assistance on this day, in regards to Randolph’s mental health. ComCare informed the family that they were unable to assist Randolph. Police officers arrived at Randolph’s home, where they allege that Randolph charged at them with a knife.
Randolph was gunned down in front of family members who have identified Officer Ryan Snyder as the shooter. Members of Randolph’s family encountered Officer Snyder in traffic, following the shooting. Snyder reportedly rolled down his window and arrogantly asked Randolph’s sister, whom he recognized from the scene, if she had said something to him, or if she had something to say to him. This appears to have been in extremely bad taste, and was interpreted as a threat to Randolph’s family.
There will be a public meeting held this Thursday, August 28, at 6:30 pm, at Wichita East High School, to discuss Wichita police shootings. The Mayor and Interim Police Chief Nelson Mosely will be in attendance. All are invited to come and voice your concerns.