Witnesses claim ‘WWE style wrestling move’ led to death of auto parts store alleged thief

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:16 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2023 at 7:50 AM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - A newly-released affidavit shared details related to the strangulation death of a shoplifting suspect at a KCK auto parts store.

On Sept. 21, the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office charged 39-year-old Carl Kemppainen with second-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Diamond Steen.

On Wednesday, KCTV reviewed court documents which include witnesses’ accounts of the incident at the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts Store in the 4700 block of Parallel Parkway, claiming Kemppainen utilized “something similar to a WWW wrestling move.”

One of the O’Reilly Auto Parts workers told police that Kemppainen confronted Steen and another suspect outside of the store in an attempt to get stolen products back. The witness said Kemppainen applied a strangle arm hold to Steen’s neck and maintained it despite pleas from the other alleged thief to release Steen.

When the second suspect attempted to move Kemppainen’s arm from Steen’s throat, that man was taken to the ground by another individual. Court documents said Kemppainen changed positioning on Steen and “began sitting on Steen’s back when Steen apparently became unresponsive.”

READ MORE: Family of man killed by auto parts store worker mourns their loss

A store employee recalled people asking if Steen was dead. That employee told police they “remember Carl checking Steen and Carl saying he felt Steen breathing and he was just put to sleep,” court documents said.

Detectives checked Steen’s body before it was transported to the Forensic Medical of Kansas and no weapons were located. They also observed several videos collected from bystanders and in-store cameras and were unable to see any assaults on Kemppainen by either thief, as Kemppainen said in his statement.

“Steen and (redacted) never struck, punched or fought Kemppainen as he also described in his statement,” the document reads.

READ MORE: Two more people charged in deadly confrontation at KCK O’Reilly store

One witness told police he began recording video of the incident after seeing Kemppainen rip the car keys from a lanyard of Steen, knocking them into a construction area. When Steen attempted to to get the keys back, he was “immediately taken in a choke hold by the manager.”

A preliminary toxicology report showed Steen tested positive for opioids, THC and Benzos. An autopsy on Steen indicated the cause of death was strangulation and the manner of death based upon the investigation evidence was ruled a homicide.