Outrage boils over in Kansas City after video captures arrest of pregnant Black woman
The date of birth of Deja Stallings' first child, a little girl whom she has named Dsyre, is October 19th. However, her mother says her unborn child has already been the victim of police brutality after Stallings was knocked to the ground for two weeks in front of and held with one knee to his back by white Kansas City police.
The incident occurred on September 30, when people were gathering outside a gas station in downtown Kansas City to commemorate the life of a recently murdered victim.
"[The police] came down there twice ... to harass us," the 25-year-old Stallings told Yahoo News. "Then they went and came back and said [a man] had entered the house."
Shortly after their second visit to the party, the officers began to break into the crowd and attempted to arrest a man they accused of trespassing. While trying to end a fight, the Stallings allegedly intervened.
"I was out there like everyone else who tried to record [on their phone] and the officer pushed me," Stallings said. “When he pushed me, I said to him, 'Don't push me because you don't have the right to push me. 'He said,' You're going to jail. ' Then he threw me on my stomach and put his knee in my back. "
Deja Stallings wipes away her tears during a press conference outside City Hall on Thursday, October 8, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (AP Photo / Charlie Riedel)
The Kansas City Police Department accused Stallings of "obstructing and disrupting" law enforcement, according to a department statement sent to Yahoo News.
"The police gave several verbal warnings to the woman and the man to leave, but they continued to interfere physically trying to pull the suspect away from the officers," KCPD official Doaa El-Ashkar wrote. One of the assisting officers then tried to arrest her for obstruction and interference. The officer tried standing up, but she continued to physically resist the arrest. At that point, he put her on the floor to make the arrest. She was then handcuffed, turned on her side, and immediately placed in a sitting position. "
A video that was shot on location and has since gone viral shows only part of the arrest. The footage shows an officer fighting with Stallings who was brought to the ground, twisted her arm and put his knee on her lower back, while viewers pleaded with the officers and told them that Stallings was nine months pregnant.
For many people who saw the video, the episode was reminiscent of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis who was held by four Minneapolis officers, including one who kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes on one video. Floyd then died.
Stallings received a quote for obstructing the arrest, but she denies police claims they tried to drag the suspect away when police tried to arrest him. The name of the officer in the video has not been released, but he remains on duty and has not been punished.
Protesters have occupied the lawn and square in front of City Hall for more than a week demanding the resignation of Police Chief Rick Smith and more. (AP Photo / Charlie Riedel)
"We don't name this officer," KCPD's Jacob Becchina told a local Fox partner. “The officer is currently on full duty. There are no restrictions or anything like that. "
Prosecutors last week confirmed they were also on the matter and the KCPD confirmed that they "continue to work with the prosecutor".
In response to the lack of disciplinary action against officers involved in the incident, protesters have occupied town hall for the past 14 days and plan to continue until Police Chief Rick Smith either resigns or is fired. Civil rights groups claim that the Kansas City Police Department has been plagued by racism. The protesters are also calling for the officer involved in arresting Stallings to be dismissed and for 50 percent of the police budget to be reallocated to safe housing, mental health and public education.
Alderman Eric Bunch spoke last Thursday at a rally for Stallings in support of the protesters. Bunch said he would urge the council to take the necessary action to "completely re-imagine what public safety means".
He added that the Kansas City Police Department budget this year is $ 272 million more than the total budget for parks, health services, neighborhood services, needy medical care, and housing and homeless services.
"We literally don't have the money to support vital health care and quality of life issues precisely because we have come to terms with a reality where law enforcement is the only vehicle to address these complex issues," he said.
Deja Stallings listens during a press conference outside City Hall on Thursday, October 8, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (AP Photo / Charlie Riedel)
Stallings attorney Stacey Shaw said such incidents will continue to happen unless police are held accountable.
"We want to bring the police and the KCPD to justice for what happened to Deja," Shaw said. "We are pushing for a police revision of their violence policy to include pregnant women ... and we are seeking a budget revision to end this cycle of violence."
Believing there are ingrained problems within the KCPD, Shaw said the officer who arrested Stallings is the second officer in the department who previously killed someone only to be released back into the community to hurt someone else.
One of the officers Shaw is referring to is Kansas City Police Officer Dylan Pifer, who killed 30-year-old Terrance Bridges, a black man, in May 2019. Pifer was never charged with murder by a grand jury and returned to active duty only nine days after the shooting.
Six months later, Pifer was involved in another incident in which he was accused of aggressively handcuffing and holding a 15-year-old black teenager while his partner Sgt.Matthew Neal slammed the boy's face into the ground, breaking his teeth and made him need stitches.
Shaw identified the officer who arrested Stallings as Blayne Newton, a man Shaw said was responsible for the March murder of Donnie Sanders, a 47-year-old black man. Newton was not punished for the shooting and returned to active duty shortly afterwards.
"We have a lot of police murders in this community," Shaw said. "The police are killing people and they will not do anything about it. This continues and no one knows who the officers are until someone does the same as leaving an unmarked note with the information."
Just 48 hours before her due date, Stallings said she continues to have frequent doctor visits due to the arrest. Her blood pressure is high and her bones ache, she told Yahoo News. At last week's rally, she tried to walk from the car to the town hall steps to say a few words because she was in pain. Your loved ones started a GoFundMe page to help them pay medical bills and therapies.
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