In the last decade, Kansas City police have been involved in 47 fatal shootings, about four a year, reports the Kansas City Star. When the Star compared Kansas City to 11 other cities, including larger ones like Denver and Milwaukee, it found that Kansas City had the third-most officer-involved fatal shootings per capita from 2005 through 2014. Only St. Louis and Cleveland recorded more. In Kansas City, those shootings are not routinely scrutinized by any independent monitor. The Office of Community Complaints, which handles citizen grievances against officers, relies on Kansas City police internal affairs investigators to gather facts. Since it opened 45 years ago, the office never has examined an officer-involved shooting; it doesn't have the power. Instead, police and prosecutors almost always control investigations from the sound of the gunshots until the case is closed. A grand jury may hear a case, but the influence of police and prosecutors over that process is in dispute.
In some other cities, independent monitors probe officer-involved shootings and tell the public what they find. “These shootings tend to be very emotional, and it's helpful to have someone who is objective watch over those things,” said Nicholas Mitchell, Denver's independent monitor. “The monitor is an answer to the idea that police shouldn't be policing themselves.” The Star's analysis showed most of the people killed by Kansas City police were armed, but a few were not. Nearly 60 percent were black — in a city that is 30 percent black — and most were killed by white officers. Police Chief Darryl Forté, who is black, said all of his officers acted to protect themselves, the lives of other officers or, in some cases, civilians. Prosecutors have not filed charges in any of the cases, and grand juries have not indicted any of the 79 officers involved.