by Matt Clarke
In September 2017, the terms of a $4.8 million confidential settlement between the Kansas City Police Department and an unarmed man whom police officers shot 20 times were made public. The man had sued police for using excessive force in responding to the report of an alleged carjacking. The suit had been filed three years earlier and was settled about six months after that.
Shortly before 2:00 a.m. on November 18, 2013, a 36-year-old man called Kansas City police from a pay phone at a convenience store and told them he had been carjacked at gunpoint. He said a woman flagged him down, saying she was in danger, and she asked to use his phone. While this was going on, a man entered the back of his 2003 Toyota RAV4 and ordered him out of the car at gunpoint.
Police tracked the man’s phone, which was still in the car, and found the RAV4 parked in an alley behind a house. Window tinting prevented them from seeing into the vehicle. Police dash cam recordings show police examining the RAV4 with flashlights, then the car backing up a few feet and moving forward a few feet. At this point, two police officers opened fire into the vehicle.
Philippe Lora, who was alone and unarmed sitting in the vehicle, was hit 20 times with police bullets. One remains lodged in his spine, leaving him partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.
With the assistance of attorney David Smith, he filed a lawsuit alleging excessive use of force. He said Lora was unarmed, made no threatening moves, and had not committed a carjacking.
“I believe race definitely heightened the officers’ fear,” said Smith. “They were told by the alleged victim—a white man from the suburbs on Independence Avenue at 2 a.m. in the morning—that he had been carjacked at gunpoint by a black man.”
“However, the police had information that the alleged victim was lying, yet went on the wild goose chase for the dangerous black man anyway.”
A police department internal affairs panel had cleared the police officers of any wrongdoing.
“If this is true, then it begs the question: Why was there no acknowledgement of wrongdoing?” asked Vernon Howard Jr, president of the Greater Kansas City Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who has led numerous protests against unjust police shootings in Kansas City. “Why would there be a $4.8 million payout if there was no wrongdoing?”
As a digital subscriber to Criminal Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login