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Prisoner battery case against Wichita police officer dismissed as a matter of witnesses, district attorney says

Prosecutors have dropped a pending criminal case against a Wichita police officer accused of slapping a handcuffed prisoner tied to a patrol car over an availability issue with a key witness.

Andrew Barnett was due to be tried by jury this week on a misdemeanor charge. But in a court filing late Monday morning, the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office announced it would drop the case “without prejudice,” which leaves open the possibility of dropping it again in the future.

In an email response to questions on Monday, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said his office made the decision to drop the case because “a necessary witness is not available,” but said that she would consider prosecuting him again later.

“I will review the case in light of this development and in light of the recent acquittal in the case involving Barnett before deciding whether to file again,” he wrote.

A defense attorney listed for Barnett in the court records did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Monday afternoon.

Earlier this month, Barnett was acquitted of disorderly conduct in an unrelated case in which he was accused of threatening an Avis car rental desk clerk at Eisenhower National Airport that he would not rent him a car. vehicle with someone else’s travel vouchers and a credit card he did not have is not physically in his possession as of December 2, 2021.

In the recently filed case, Barnett was charged with striking a Kansas City, Missouri man who was in handcuffs and tied to the back seat of a police patrol car on May 14, 2021. in custody for alleged drug-related offenses and to traffic, he had climbed into the driver’s seat of the patrol car and wrestled with the officers, but it was after the man had already been subdued and secured.

Barnett, in an interview with law enforcement, said he opened the patrol car door after the scuffle to ask the prisoner “what he was thinking” and “used his hand to move” the prisoner’s face. man because he thought the man was going to spit on him, according to an affidavit released by the court last year.

Other officers interviewed described Barnett as angry and “hot,” the document said.

The prisoner denied Barnett’s version of events and said he did not know why the officer slapped him, the affidavit says. The interaction was not captured on police body camera.

Barnett was indicted last February. He pleaded not guilty to charges in both misdemeanor counts.

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