Officers exonerated in 2015 tasing death

Officers exonerated in 2015 tasing death

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LYNDON—Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones released a 12-page report reviewing law enforcement use of force related to the death of Kenneth Shick, 48, Oct. 20, 2015, at 11651 S. Jordan Rd., Wakarusa.

“The evidence uncovered during the course of the investigation found no credible evidence that the deputies’ use of force was unreasonable under the circumstances they encountered,” Jones said in the report. “The three Osage County Sheriff’s Deputies used reasonable force to effect an arrest and to defend themselves, and the two family members, from bodily harm while making the arrest. Under Kansas law and the facts of this case, I conclude that no criminal charges will be filed against any of the three deputies involved in this case.”

According to the report, Osage County Sheriff’s Officers responded to the residence at 1:20 a.m. as a result of a 911 call, in which dispatchers were unable to speak with the caller. Upon arriving, a female resident informed an unnamed deputy that there was a problem in the home. The deputy additionally witnessed Shick acting aggressively and controlling. The officer attempted to get the elderly female to step out of the home, at which time Shick aggressively pulled her back in by her neck.

The officer reported he felt the person was being used as a hostage or shield, and was concerned Shick may have had a weapon. When Shick threw the woman to the floor, the deputy deployed his taser, striking Shick in the chest.

At that time, Shick said “Electricity, fun!” according to the officer.

Two more deputies arrived at the scene, and in attempt to deescalate the situation, Shick was pepper sprayed by one of the deputies. Shick appeared unaffected by the spray. Shick then aggressively approached one of the deputies, and was taken to the ground by the other two officers. During the takedown, Shick attempted to remove a knife from a deputies pocked. He was then placed in hand restraints.

“As soon as Mr. Shick was secured, and pursuant to Osage County Sheriff’s Office policy, first responders were requested to respond to the home since tasers had been deployed,” Jones said. “After Mr. Shick was taken into custody, he suddenly stopped breathing.”

Deputies administered CPR until first responders arrived nine minutes later. Shick was pronounced dead at an unnamed hospital. The cause of death was later listed as cardiac arrhythmia during a physical struggle, following an autopsy performed by Frontier Forensics in Kansas City.

The autopsy also noticed five punctures consistent with taser barbs on Shick’s chest, and one on his left wrist. It also noted marijuana in his system.

The case was investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation that evening, and later submitted to the Osage County attorney for review. Interviews of witnesses, along with officer reports, recordings and autopsy results were reviewed.

“There were slight differences in witnesses’ reports of what they saw, heard or otherwise perceived,” Jones said. “However, when all of the statements are taken in concert with the evidence gathered during the investigation, a clear understanding of the facts emerges.”

One member of the family said Shick had been experiencing mental issues for five days prior to the incident. That person later called 911 after Shick pushed another member of the household across the room. She said let the phone ring and did not speak.

Coworkers had told investigators that Shick acted oddly prior to the incident, noted he had been getting into drugs and indicated “something was going to happen that day.”

“The investigation established that Kenneth Shick had battered two family members, as well as two deputies, and had placed them in a very dangerous, potentially life-threatening situation,” Jones said. “Further, Mr. Shick refused to comply with the lawful orders from clearly identified law enforcement officers. Finally, Mr. Shick advanced towards the deputies in a threatening manner, placing them in fear of bodily harm to themselves and to the two family members present.

“This report details the factual findings and legal conclusions related solely to the criminal investigation into the death of Kenneth Shick,” Jones said. “The only question addressed by this report is whether sufficient evidence exists to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the criminal laws of the State of Kansas were violated.”

• view the complete 12-page press release at https://www.och-c.com/topstories/2016/0804/Shick.pdf

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