JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) – On Monday, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office released a statement after completing a review of the March 12, 2020 officer-involved shooting of Donnie Sanders.
Jean Peters Baker’s office “concluded that the evidence collected is insufficient to support charges against the officer” in connection with the fatal shooting.
“In this case, I took additional steps in the review to ensure all evidence was collected, analyzed and reported,” the prosecutor’s office said. “We attempted to enhance the audio recordings from the night of the shooting. We repeatedly canvassed the scene of the shooting for more witnesses, as recently as last week. I sought outside reviews by two other district attorney offices that have highly developed use of force teams. We shared the investigation with them and asked for their independent review. Both offices determined no charges should be filed in this matter.”
“Ultimately, though, it is my office's decision whether to file charges or not,” her office said. “My office's review of the March 12, 2020, fatal police shooting concluded that the evidence collected is insufficient to support charges against the officer. The officer told investigators that Sanders held up his hand toward him ‘as if he's got a gun.’ There were two witnesses who stated that they saw the shooting or the moments just before the shooting. Those two civilian witnesses generally corroborated this portion of the officer's account, one saying that it appeared Sanders was pointing a gun at the officer and the other saying Sanders had his arm extended and was moving toward the officer.”
“The officer stated that he believed that the victim had a weapon and was moving toward him at the time he shot the victim,” her office said. “The evidence showed the victim did not have a weapon. He had a cell phone that was concealed in his pocket. Again, the two civilian witnesses corroborated this portion of the officer’s statement. The witnesses said Sanders was moving toward the officer and had his arm up and extended toward the officer, when the officer, who was backpedaling, shot. One witness said he was ‘pointing whatever it was’ at the officer; in further questioning, the witness said it appeared to be a gun. No other witness stated they saw the shooting or the moments just before the shooting.”
Baker continued in her statement to say, “Like others in our community, we mourn the loss of the victim. These events exact a great toll on our community, a community searching for hope to heal and prevent the staggering high levels of violence in this city. We continue to search for new partners to address and suppress this violence and begin to heal the resulting trauma and harm for our community.”
A copy of the letter to police and to Donnie Sanders' family documenting the office’s decision is available here.