Kansas un­der­sh­er­iff who killed man with bean­bag wasn’t trained, re­port says

The Wichita Eagle (Sunday) - - News - BY JA­SON TIDD

A Kansas un­der­sh­er­iff who shot and killed a man with a bean­bag round had never been trained on how to prop­erly use the weapon and it’s so-called less lethal am­mu­ni­tion, court doc­u­ments say.

That lack of train­ing led the Bar­ber County un­der­sh­er­iff to in­ten­tion­ally aim at the wrong part of the body when he shot and killed a man with the bean­bag, a po­lice ex­pert says in a re­port pros­e­cu­tors filed in court. The un­der­sh­er­iff al­legedly fired from too close of a range and used an un­safe round - one that de­liv­ered more force than a po­lice duty ri­fle, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The un­der­sh­er­iff, Vir­gil “Dusty” Brewer, 60, was ar­rested and crim­i­nally charged with manslaugh­ter in the death of Steven My­ers, the Kansas Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion has said.

Pros­e­cu­tors re­quested a re­port from law en­force­ment ex­pert Steve Ijames, a re­tired Spring­field, Mo., po­lice ma­jor who has been an in­struc­tor on use of force and less lethal weapons for mul­ti­ple agen­cies.

That re­port, filed in Bar­ber County District Court, states that proper train­ing and us­ing a round that has been proven safe are key to “con­trol­ling the po­ten­tially deadly risks” as­so­ci­ated with bean­bag rounds and other less-lethal im­pact weapons.

But Brewer was nei­ther trained nor used a safe round, the re­port al­leges.

Sher­iff Lon­nie Small did not re­spond to re­quests for comment. He is on the state’s wit­ness list in the crim­i­nal case against Brewer.

THE DEADLY SHOOTING

My­ers, 42, was killed on Oct. 6, 2017, when Brewer shot him in the chest with a bean­bag round at close range. A bean­bag round is a small, fab­ric pil­low filled with lead pel­lets typ­i­cally fired from a 12-gauge shot­gun. The bean­bag rounds, along with Tasers and pep­per sprays, are used to safey in­ca­pac­i­tate sus­pects who may be dan­ger­ous.

Po­lice had been called af­ter My­ers was re­port­edly drunk and threat­en­ing peo­ple with a gun out­side Busters bar on Main Street of Sun City, a south-cen­tral Kansas town of 53. My­ers had al­ready left when deputies ar­rived, but they found him in a shed at 201 W. Main.

Of­fi­cers shouted con­flict­ing com­mands of “put your hands up now” and “get on the ground,” ac­cord­ing to body cam­era video. There’s a bang, and some­one yells “ow.”

My­ers was un­armed when he was fa­tally shot with the bean­bag, at­tor­neys for his widow have said in a sep­a­rate civil law­suit against Brewer and Small.

LACK OF TRAIN­ING

Brewer’s shot­gun had bean­bag rounds from two dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers.

One was is­sued through the Free­stone County Sher­iff’s Of­fice. Be­fore Brewer joined the Bar­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, he was a sher­iff’s sergeant in Free­stone County, Texas.

The other was from Teague Tac­ti­cal Sup­ply. The com­pany is based in Teague, a city in Free­stone County, which had hoped to sup­ply bean­bags to the Sher­iff’s Of­fice there.

Teague Tac­ti­cal Sup­ply did not re­spond to re­quests for comment.

In 2015, Brewer had fired a bean­bag round at a card­board tar­get while work­ing for the Free­stone County Sher­iff’s Of­fice in Texas, Ijames said, cit­ing a KBI in­ves­tiga­tive re­port.

Brewer was never taught the proper dis­tance from which to shoot a bean­bag round, Ijames said, cit­ing a KBI in­ves­tiga­tive re­port.

“Brewer had not ex­pected the bean bag round that he fired at My­ers to pen­e­trate My­ers’ body,” the KBI re­port states.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Brewer has tes­ti­fied that he hadn’t read all of the sher­iff’s of­fice poli­cies in the 10 months be­tween when he was hired and when he shot My­ers.

Brewer told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he had al­ways been “taught to shoot cen­ter mass be­cause it was the largest tar­get and the best spot to stop the threat,” the KBI re­port states. That’s the op­po­site of what is taught when us­ing less-lethal im­pact rounds, such as bean­bags, Ijames said.

Po­lice agen­cies typ­i­cally re­quire of­fi­cers who use bean­bag weapons to com­plete an ini­tial eight-hour train­ing course, which fo­cuses on where to aim when fir­ing a bean­bag and the per­for­mance char­ac­ter­is­tics of the round, Ijames said.

Un­less of­fi­cers are in­tend­ing to use deadly force, bean­bags should not be aimed at the tar­get’s chest, head, neck, throat, face or spine, Ijames said, cit­ing In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of

TEST­ING THE BEAN­BAG

When Ijames tested the type of round used by Brewer, it was fired with so much en­ergy that it de­stroyed his equip­ment.

The test in­volved fir­ing the bean­bag into a 12pound block of bal­lis­tic clay. He re­ported that five of the stan­dard po­lice bean­bag rounds — the

CTS “su­per sock” — per­formed as de­signed. They trav­eled 280-300 feet per sec­ond, and de­liv­ered about 120 foot-pounds of en­ergy.

That round has proven to be safe and ef­fec­tive when aimed at the ap­pro­pri­ate part of the body, Ijames said.

He also tested 10 rounds be­lieved to be of the same type as the one Brewer fired. All of those rounds trav­eled 1,2001,500 feet per sec­ond.

The first “de­stroyed the clay block and knocked it off the test ta­ble,” Ijames wrote. It was trav­el­ing 1,323 feet per sec­ond. The bean­bag round “dis­in­te­grated upon im­pact with the clay.”

He then tested the next round by fir­ing at a new block of clay that had been cov­ered with a Kevlar bul­let-re­sis­tant vest. The bean­bag pen­e­trated the vest.

Brewer’s round would gen­er­ate 1,271-1,898 foot­pounds of en­ergy, Ijames wrote. That’s 10-16 times the en­ergy of the stan­dard po­lice bean­bag round. It’s also more than the stan­dard po­lice 9 mm hand­gun (370 foot-pounds), a .44 Mag­num (900 foot­pounds) and the M4 po­lice duty ri­fle (1,300 foot­pounds).

MAN­U­FAC­TURER WARN­ING

In­ves­ti­ga­tors sus­pect the round Brewer fired came from Teague Tac­ti­cal Sup­ply but was man­u­fac­tured by Con­cepts in Am­mu­ni­tion, Ijames’ re­port in­di­cates. Con­cepts in Am­mu­ni­tion is a Gar­den City, Mich., com­pany.

“The sus­pect round in this case ap­pears to have been hand-sewn by the mother of the per­son who sells them on­line, and the test­ing that was doc­u­mented in a Michi­gan State Po­lice re­port in­volved shooting — and penetrating — ply­wood at var­i­ous ranges,” he wrote.

Con­cepts in Am­mu­ni­tion did not re­spond to re­quests for comment.

The com­pany’s web­site de­scrib­ing its bean­bag rounds states that it is in­tended for crowd con­trol and “over­all dis­burse­ment.” It’s range is 25-35 feet, and it is not rec­om­mended for use closer than 15 feet.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors de­ter­mined that Brewer shot My­ers from 8-10 feet away.

Ja­son Tidd: 316-268-6593, @Ja­son_Tidd

Vir­gil “Dusty” Brewer

Steven My­ers

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