KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Mourners gathered Friday at a Kansas civic center to remember a slain police captain, hours after the 20-year-old man accused of killing him made his first court appearance on charges carrying a possible death penalty.
Jamaal Lewis wore an anti-suicide prison smock during his initial Wyandotte County court appearance Friday on charges of capital murder, aggravated assault and criminal discharge of a weapon. Jeff Fewell, a jail official, said Lewis was placed on suicide watch after a mental health evaluation.
Authorities allege Lewis shot and killed Kansas City, Kansas, police Capt. Robert Melton on Tuesday as 46-year-old Melton was still in his unmarked patrol car, helping investigate an earlier drive-by shooting. Melton was alone searching for a shooting suspect in that earlier gunfire when he drove up to a person who matched a description of someone possibly involved. Before the officer could get out of his unmarked police cruiser, he was shot several times through his passenger-side window and died later at a hospital.
A second man, 18-year-old DaQon J. Sipple, has been charged with aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer involving a different officer than Melton, as well as with criminal discharge of a weapon.
It's unclear whether they have lawyers yet who could comment on the allegations.
Prosecutors haven't determined whether to pursue the death penalty against Lewis, saying it could take months before that decision is made.
Hours after Lewis' court appearance, mourners filed into the city's Jack Reardon Civic Center for Melton's wake as a large flag was displayed at the entrance, not far from flags held my members of the Patriot Guard. Police cars, some from as far away as St. Louis County, Missouri, packed the parking lot.
"The people that run into danger on our behalf on a daily basis are deserving of great honor and respect," Don Harden, a Patriot Guard member from Tonganoxie, Kansas, told KCTV.
Melton's funeral will be Saturday, followed by burial in Leavenworth National Cemetery.