The Kansas City, Kansas police officer’s eyes flash fast, his speech is slurred, and he’s leaning against a wall, holding on to the railing of a stairway. The officer’s partner stands across from him as the two white police officers respond to a call about a custody issue within a black family.
In a video that has now spread on social networks and on the local news, the landlord, alarmed by the appearance of the officer, asks the officer in front to call a sergeant, saying aloud several times that “this man is under the influence of something. ”
“You brought a tall policeman into my house!” the man says. “This cop is as tall as a kite!”
A Kansas City, Kansas police statement released this week said the unnamed officer who appeared to be intoxicated was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, which began last week. The officer may have been reacting to a medical condition, according to KCKPD.
“The investigation includes a fitness-for-service assessment which consists of a complete medical and physical evaluation and drug screening,” the statement said. “Although still early in the investigation, preliminary information indicates a medical condition may have been a factor in the officer’s appearance.”
The homeowner told The Kansas City Defender that he feared for his life during the crash and questioned why officers entered his home when the problem was simply a family dispute.
The incident appears to have ended peacefully and the officer at the front of the video is shown calling for a superior. But in a city where the police department has been targeted by revelations of alleged abuse by former Detective Roger Golubski, activists are keeping a close eye on the situation.
Nikki Richardson, founder of Justice for Wyandotte, said she was concerned that the other officer shown in the video was unaware that he had just refused to call a colleague for acting strange and “showing clear signs that he was not suitable for the police”.
“It can’t always be the responsibility of citizens to catch and report police misconduct,” Richardson said. “It has to be done internally as well.”
Lora McDonald, executive director of the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, renewed the group’s call for a top-down investigation by the US Department of Justice. McDonald also asked why the other officer didn’t take action, especially since the crippled-looking officer was carrying a gun.
“That’s what ‘back the blue’ looks like,” he said, referring to efforts to support the police, “to do nothing when an officer’s behavior is dangerous. We are seriously concerned about the internal workings of this department. Golubski may be long gone, but the culture of protecting police over creating safety for all community members persists.