Leonna Hale: Bodycam footage shows Kansas woman was armed, pointed gun at cops before being shot
Warning: The article contains graphic content
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI: In an incident that took place on Friday, May 27, a black woman was shot at least 5 times by the police. The officers were reportedly following up on a call about an armed carjacking just before 8 pm with a given description and license plate of the vehicle. The police have now released images from the bodycam of the woman being armed. Leonna Hale, 26, of Kansas City, Kansas, was charged by The Jackson County prosecutor's office with unlawful firearm possession, exhibiting a firearm, and resisting arrest.
The police department was previously faced with a lot of backlash for shooting Leonna 5 times. One witness also claimed that she was unarmed when the police started to gun her down. However, the bodycam footage reveals otherwise. The prosecutor's office said that the bodycam footage of the officer shooting her showed Hale holding a gun in her right hand. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who reviewed the footage said, "Hale was continually displaying a weapon during her encounter with police and also appeared to be attempting to flee. Some false narratives about what happened last Friday night at 6th and Prospect Avenue, unfortunately, were relied upon by some media and other sources. Our job, as prosecutors, is to remain neutral and review all evidence. Our review of body cam videos provided the actual accounting of events that night."
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Baker continued, "The two officers stated that she was armed with what they believed to be a handgun. Body camera footage confirms the officers' statements that Hale was holding a handgun. Still photos, taken from body cam footage, of this encounter also demonstrate a weapon was present and in the hands of the defendant." As of now, the full footage of the bodycam hasn't been released. But the image released by Baker shows the woman holding what appears to be a gun. However, it's not clear whether she's pointing it at the police or not.
Check out the still image here released by Jackson County Prosecutor's Office.
The incident according to the police
The image released provides some concrete proof of the woman being armed, and now they have described the incident too. The police explained that the officers were approaching a car in the parking lot of a Family Dollar store at Sixth and Prospect Avenues in Kansas City as it matched the description of the one that was carjacked. They further explain that a man and a woman, identified as Hale, fled from the vehicle. Both the officers fired at Hale as she fled holding the gun.
The police explained that Hale was rushed to the hospital and was in a stable condition. The man, who fled the vehicle, was later brought in for an unrelated medical issue. When she was interviewed by Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers, she said that she didn't have a gun. She later denied a follow-up interview when the detectives were done reviewing the bodycam footage, as revealed by investigators in the court documents.
The @MSHPTrooperDDCC investigators will continue to investigate any and all details surrounding the officer-involved shooting.— MSHP Troop A (@MSHPTrooperA) June 1, 2022
The investigation is ongoing and upon completion, all reports and evidence will be submitted to the @JACOProsecutor for final review.
During all this chaos, there was a witness named Shé Danja who claims that Hale, at the time of this incident, was unarmed and even held her hands in the air to remain neutral. The witness claims that Hale was cooperating and pregnant when the officers shot her and she started to bleed through her white t-shirt. However, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Andy Bell expressed his doubts to KCUR radio on the claims of Hale being pregnant. He explained that the only reason why officers were interested in Hale's apprehension was that the vehicle's description and license plate matched that of a car used in a Kansas City robbery. The video of the incident was uploaded on her Facebook account but the video has since been deleted.
A witness named Shédanja says Kansas City police shot a Black pregnant woman five times even though she was unarmed and had her hands up. The victim was identified as 26-year-old Leonna Hale. She was in stable condition on Friday, according to KCTV.— David Edwards (@DavidEdwards) May 30, 2022
Shédanja recorded this video pic.twitter.com/esOQnCRyB4
Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, Quinton Lucas later tweeted about this discovery. He said, "Body cameras have been a positive addition to reaching the truth in public safety investigations. I appreciate the prosecutor today sharing facts and an image that clarify the public narrative concerning last Friday’s shooting." There's not much concrete information available about Hale yet, apart from the fact she's the mother of a young daughter and has an undated mugshot of an unknown crime.
Body cameras have been a positive addition to reaching the truth in public safety investigations. I appreciate the prosecutor today sharing facts and an image that clarify the public narrative concerning last Friday’s shooting. https://t.co/iQ9BSVRXj9— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) June 1, 2022