INDEPDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a man shot by suburban Kansas City police in January has died, but they are refusing to say when he died or to release his name.
The shooting happened when officers responded to reports of an armed suspect outside a Dollar General store in Independence, The Kansas City Star reports. Jackson County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Mike Mansur said Tuesday that he won't name the man or discuss the shooting while the case remains open.
Missouri prosecutors aren't required to release many details at this point in the investigation, though open government and police accountability advocates said they should anyway. Earlier this month, Mansur told The Kanas City Star only that no charges had been filed against the man before he died.
"This is the kind of thing where we need to know what's happening, that's first and foremost," said Lora McDonald, executive director of MORE2 (Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity).
The Independence Police Department also has refused to release the man's name or date of death. The agency also isn't answering other questions about the shooting, which also wounded a second man. That man, Mike Becker, told reporters that an officer shot him in the hip with a rifle when he rushed to the store to protect his wife and 4-year-old daughter who were inside. Becker hasn't been charged.
Usually the names of people shot by law enforcement in Missouri are released within a few days. However, Missouri law doesn't require departments to identify people shot by police in incident reports, which must be released shortly after a shooting, said Jean Maneke, an attorney for the Missouri Press Association who deals with open records law.
An investigative report with more information eventually becomes public when the case is closed, but it can take months for police shooting cases to work their way through the legal system.
Maneke criticized the reluctance to release the dead man's name, saying the intent of withholding a person's identity usually is to protect them from harm.
"I fail to see what benefit is gained by law enforcement in protecting the name of this victim," she said. "He's dead. He's not at risk."
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com