WRITTEN AND CONTRIBUTED BY COY MALONE
What You Need to Know:
On June 8, 2016, police officers Peter Neukrich and Jonathan Munyan were responding to a call in Kanas City, MO that three Black males were playing on a corner with guns. The officers chased suspects, who ran in different directions, and ended up approaching then 15-year-old Tyree Bell who was walking home from a relative’s house. Bell was taller than the suspect, wearing his hair differently, and entirely different clothes, but was taken into custody and kept for a 24-hour “investigative hold.” He was held for three weeks without being charged, then released after detectives watched patrol car videos showing he didn’t resemble any suspects.
Bell initially sued Neukrich and Munyan, but the case was dismissed due to qualified immunity. A federal appeals court reinstated the suit in October 2020, finding the officers didn’t have probable cause to arrest Bell. A mistrial was declared last year after a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.
The case was scheduled to go to trial again on February 28, but that proceeding has been canceled due to a now-pending settlement.
“Regarding the settlement of the lawsuit in this matter, the Board of Police Commissioners have agreed to a settlement amount of $900,000 made payable to Mr. Bell and his attorney Arthur Benson representing $458,000 for attorney’s fees and costs and $442,000 for compensatory damages,” police spokesman Sgt. Jake Becchina said. “We are glad we reached a mutual resolution and we wish Mr. Bell and his family all the best.”
Why You Need to Know:
This was a CHILD. ARRESTED AND HELD FOR THREE WEEKS. No regard for his rights, nor his parents’ or legal guardians’ rights. Yet, he looked nothing like the suspect and it was all on video. What couldn’t the jury decide? It was all on video! The trauma he likely faces deserves more than $900,000, and should come directly out of the officer’s pensions. Maybe this ruling can serve as some type of standard for wrongful arrests. Oh yeah, I forgot. Many states have something similar in place, but we’re not seeing these results in every wrongful arrest. Does anyone know why?