CPD Preliminary Community Briefing re Case No. 2020-001040

CPD Preliminary Community Briefing re Case No. 2020-001040


In the early morning hours of February 2,
2020, the Columbia Police Department, as well as other agencies, responded to shots fired
in the area of 19 North Fifth Street in downtown Columbia. The shooting resulted in the death of one
individual and serious injury to another. Hello, I am Sergeant Clint Sinclair with the
Columbia, Missouri Police Department. This video is a brief overview of the events
of that night, as well as Columbia Police Department practice and procedure in dealing
with critical incidents. At this time we are unable to release physical
records, including video, related to this ongoing criminal investigation. However, some members of the Columbia Police
Department Command Staff as well as city officials have reviewed relevant, available footage
and reports. Please keep in mind this is a preliminary
debrief, which is being done to answer questions, dispel rumors, and address factually incorrect
information surrounding the incident. Here is an aerial view of the incident location
and surrounding area. As you can see from the map, 19 North Fifth
Street is indicated in green. The Columbia Police Department, located at
600 E. Walnut is highlighted in yellow. Broadway and North Fifth Streets are labeled
as well. This is the area we will be discussing in
this video. Prior to this incident occurring, officers
were in the area monitoring crowds and traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian. This aerial view shows the positioning of
CPD police vehicles based on GPS approximately one minute before the first report of shots
fired. Prior to the shots being fired, 3 officers
were outside of their police vehicles in the area while 4 officers remained in their vehicles. Several more officers would respond from the
Columbia Police Department. Here are some still images captured by in-car
video. The first image was captured from a police
vehicle at the intersection of Fifth Street and Walnut Street looking south. The second from a police vehicle parked near
the Fifth and Walnut Parking Garage facing west. It is important to note the lack of visibility
to the front of the business due to the crowd and several vehicles parked on the street. Both of these images were captured moments
before the shots were fired. At approximately 2:34:53 a.m., individuals
in the crowd can be observed running from the business. No disturbance or fight was observed on video
obtained from an in-car camera or by officers in the area. At the same time, officers respond to shots
being fired. As the crowd is running from the area, multiple
CPD officers are observed, on video, running toward the sound of the gunshots. Officers reported only hearing, not seeing,
the shots being fired. At 2:35:13, officers encounter the first victim,
later identified as Tershawn Kitchen in the doorway to the business. Based on body camera footage, officers moved
Mr. Kitchen out of the doorway and immediately began to assess his condition and render aid. Officers can be seen on video examining Mr.
Kitchen to identify the extent and nature of injuries. Officers remained with Mr. Kitchen until Columbia
Fire personnel arrived at the scene. At 02:35:41, officers were alerted to a second
victim, a 30 year old female, inside the business. Officers responded into the business and began
to render aid to the female. Individuals inside the business assisted officers. At no time during this incident was anyone
prevented from rendering aid or helping either of the victims. Several times on video, officers can be heard
asking for a trauma kit. Every CPD patrol vehicle is equipped with
a trauma kit. These kits provide officers the tools and
resources to provide basic first aid. During this incident, officers rendered aid
to both victims consistent with our training as well as Columbia Police Department standards. The video also reflects acts of compassion
and empathy by CPD officers while trying to help the victims. Officers at the scene quickly requested Columbia
Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services be dispatched to the scene. At 02:35:50, the Columbia Fire Department
was dispatched by Boone County Joint Communications and arrived at 02:39:35. EMS personnel were dispatched at 02:35:58
and arrived at the scene 02:39:59. A second ambulance was dispatched at 02:36:09
and arrived at 02:43:26. At 2:38:26, mutual aid assistance was requested
by the Columbia Police Department. Mutual aid requests are made in circumstances
where additional personnel and resources are needed to manage a crime scene or critical
incident. While officers from various local agencies
work together on a daily basis, formal mutual aid requests are not a frequent occurrence. Several agencies responded to our request
to include: The University of Missouri Police Department, Boone County Sheriff’s Department,
Missouri State Highway Patrol, and Centralia Police Department. We are grateful for their assistance. When responding to critical incidents such
as this, there are many factors and priorities law enforcement must take into consideration. Safety of individuals, protection of evidence
and crime scenes, identification of victims, witnesses, and suspects all occur simultaneously
as officers respond. It’s often necessary for officers to order
bystanders and individuals to clear areas or stay back from victims and potential evidence,
even if that means verbal commands and physical action. This is to allow officers to render aid, preserve
evidence, and protect the integrity of the investigation. Law enforcement may also need to establish
perimeters with crime scene tape and block public areas with vehicles. In this incident, both victims as well as
a possible suspect were located within 1 minute of the shots being fired. At 2:35:13,the same time officers located
Mr. Kitchen, officers encountered a person of interest in the case, later identified
as Curtis Lewis. On video, Mr. Lewis can be seen surrendering
the alleged firearm used in the shooting to an officer at 2:35:20. Even after the suspect had been identified
by two officers, there were other officers on scene who were not yet aware of this. It is also important to note at this moment
none of the officers knew if there were any additional suspects. Lewis was detained by officers and later arrested. After the scene was stabilized, officers attempted
to identify witnesses and locate evidence related to the shooting. Members of the Criminal Investigation Division
as well as Crime Scene Investigators were called to the scene. Several individuals, still at the scene, provided
statements to law enforcement. Officers encountered a subject who stated
he was the owner of the business where the second victim was located. On video, an officer attempted to obtain the
name of the owner but was not provided the information upon request. It is important for law enforcement to identify
as many witnesses and parties as possible at these types of crime scenes. Collecting basic information such as name,
date of birth, and up to date telephone numbers are standard procedure for any investigation. Not only does this facilitate the investigation,
but provides information necessary for courts later down the road during adjudication. As the investigation progressed, consent was
indeed obtained from the owner of the business to search inside. However, under Columbia Police Department
policy number 322.4, it is also preferred that a search warrant be obtained in addition
to consent for serious crimes or major investigations. Obtaining a search warrant provides review
and input from uninvolved parties in the form of a prosecutor as well as a Judge. In this case, a search warrant was applied
for and approved by both of those parties. Also, when investigating major incidents such
as this, occupants of homes or businesses are often asked to leave during the investigation
if the location is determined to contain evidence. This is done to preserve evidence, reduce
potential contamination of the crime scene, and again protect the overall integrity of
the investigation. Any time a search warrant on a business or
residence is executed, the area is photographed prior to and after the physical search is
conducted. During the search of this particular business,
no damage was done to any property. Pieces of furniture were moved in order to
thoroughly search for evidence. The door to the women’s bathroom was forced
open to ensure there weren’t any additional victims in the business. It is Columbia Police Department policy and
practice, when executing a search warrant, that property should be left in a condition
as close as reasonably possible to its pre-search condition. However, after the search was completed, some
items were not put back in the same location they were initially found. But again, nothing was damaged or destroyed. We are addressing this issue internally as
we consistently strive to improve our practice regarding search warrants. It should be noted that evidence of the shooting
was located outside, as well as inside the business at 19 North Fifth Street. In accordance with CPD Policy as well as State
Law, the owner was provided with a copy of the search warrant as well as an itemized
list of evidence seized during the search. The officers seized all of the items that
were included in the search warrant. Once it was determined certain items were
determined that they were not needed, and the property was approved by the prosecuting
attorney to be released, the business owners were contacted. Under these circumstances, we operated with
a sense of urgency. We have documentation that shows the evidence
was processed on February 5, that the prosecuting attorney approved the release of the evidence
at 3:59 p.m. on February 5, and the business owners were contacted at 4:06 p.m. to arrange
a time to pick up their property—all on the same day. They picked up their property on February
7. As stated at the beginning of the video, this
is an ongoing criminal investigation. If anyone has any information, they are encouraged
to contact the Columbia Police Department or call Crimestoppers at 875-TIPS. A second, more detailed debrief will take
place once the records are available under law. There is no further information we can release
at this time.

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