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Police officers charged in assault on transgender woman in Kansas City

Police officers charged in assault on transgender woman in Kansas City
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Two police officers in Kansas City, Mo., were charged with assault nearly a year after they were seen on video allegedly using excessive force against a transgender woman, prosecutors announced

The two officers, Matthew Brummett and Charles Prichard, each face charges of fourth-degree assault, authorities said.

They were arresting Breona Hill at a beauty supply store in Kansas City when they “recklessly caused physical pain” to Hill, according to an indictment. 

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Hill, also known as Briya, was involved in a dispute at a beauty supply store before the officers arrived, prosecutors said. 

The officers allegedly slammed Hill’s face against the concrete sidewalk, kneed her in the face, torso and ribs, and “forcefully” bent her arms over her head while her hands were handcuffed and she was lying on her stomach. 

Prosecutors also said that a man said in an affidavit that he was passing in his vehicle and saw an officer strike a woman with a closed fist and used his cellphone to record a video of the incident, adding that the video shows the excessive use of force described in the indictment. 

A witness also took pictures of Hill’s injuries after she was taken to Truman Medical Center, showing Hill with a cut above her right eye, as well as with bruising and burns on multiple areas of her face, especially on the left side of her face on her nose, prosecutors noted. 

Hill was killed in a shooting in October 2019. A defendant has been charged in connection with that shooting, prosecutors said. 

Chief Rick Smith of the Kansas City Police Department told The New York Times in a statement the officers have been placed on “administrative assignment until the outcome of the proceedings.” Smith also said investigators in the police department found no probable cause to conclude that the law had been broken. 

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Lawyers representing the officers told the Times in a statement they had fully cooperated with the department during the internal investigation and insisted they were innocent.

“They maintain that the force they used was reasonable under the totality of the circumstances,” the lawyers said. “They vehemently dispute the basis of these charges and believe they will be ultimately exonerated in court.”

Brad Lemon, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 99, told the Times in a statement the department’s internal investigation found Hill “purposefully struck her head against the concrete.” Lemon called the misdemeanor charges against the officers “unjustified.” 

David Smith, an attorney for Hill’s family, said the video recording proves that the officers used excessive force. 

“The police investigate their own incidents with no outside agency involved,” Smith told the Times on Sunday. “The community is in uproar over this. All you have to do is watch the video. A picture speaks a thousand words, but a video speaks two thousand.”