Kansas City, Mo. – On Monday, the Kansas City Division of the FBI announced they are investigating the excessive force claims of Bryce Master’s family following an incident on Sunday that left the teen in critical condition. Masters is listed in critical condition in an area hospitals intensive care unit where he is in a medically induced coma due to brain swelling.
The FBI inquiry falls under their civil rights program according to a statement by the bureau and will be looking into whether the officer used excessive force during the stop.
Prior to the announcement by the FBI, the family of Masters released a statement through an attorney :
“The family of Bryce Masters would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of concern and support.
Because of significant inconsistencies between public statements made by the Independence Police Department and information made available to the family in the form of statements of eyewitnesses and video and audio footage of the occurrence, the family has asked the United States Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation into these tragic events.
Because Bryce is still in critical condition, the Masters family asks that their privacy be respected in allowing them to focus on Bryce’s needs and his recovery.”
Colin Masters, the brother of Bryce told KSHB 41 that it’s very difficult for their family to understand the situation, as their father is an officer with the Kansas City Police Department.
The Independence police have said they will work “hand-in-hand” with the federal investigation. The officer involved in the incident has been identified by the Independence Police Department as three-year veteran Tim Runnels. Runnels has been placed on paid vacation while the investigation is ongoing.
Police have claimed that Masters was uncooperative during the stop, was physically combative and refused to get out of the car. Police admit that the taser weapon was used while Masters was still in the car. “At some point, the teen got out of the car under his own power but later fell to the ground,” said Maj. Paul Thurman.
According to the Kansas City Star, Thurman said the department had not interviewed Runnels after the incident and that a conversation was being arranged through his Fraternal Order of Police representative. Meaning that no meaningful investigation was even underway at the point the feds intervened and that Runnels has already lawyered up.
Witnesses to the incident tell a drastically different account of the events that transpired than the official police narrative describes.
According to one witness when Masters didn’t roll down his window and tried to explain to the officer that it was broken and wasn’t able to be rolled down, the officer became angry and ordered the teen out of the car.
This is when Masters began to record the incident, according to the witness.
“Bryce is the most nonaggressive kid that I know,” said Masters’ friend, and witness to the incident, David Martes. “This was just uncalled for.”
When Masters was ordered to exit the vehicle the Martes heard him ask, “What am I being arrested for?” Standard protocol for someone asserting their rights, but seemingly enough to enrage this officer to the point of brutalizing the teenager.
Masters was then tased, yanked out of the car and thrown onto the pavement hitting his head on the ground. Another witness captured the end of the encounter on cell phone video, which showed Masters handcuffed and limp body being dragged to the other side of car by the officer and dropped on the ground. The officer then stands with one foot on Masters back as if he just bagged a trophy animal and was posing for a picture.
Is this how Americans are treated for exercising their constitutional rights, for asking why they are being arrested/detained and for recording officers in the line of duty as established under law and which has been upheld as constitutionally protected?
These Gestapo like tactics employed by law enforcement only serve to embolden the populace to stand up against this manifest aggression, to more emphatically assert their rights and to record every interaction with the police. We will not be bullied into submission.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis and on Facebook at Sir Metropolis.