KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Prosecutors have dismissed charges against a Missouri police officer who was indicted in the nonfatal shooting of a man during an arrest last summer, saying they wouldn't have been able to get a conviction.
The Jackson County prosecutor's office said late Friday that it dropped the case against 31-year-old Jacob Ramsey, who was indicted in February on charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal action in the June 24 shooting of 37-year-old Anthony Contreras.
"Like all prosecutors, we have a duty to be convinced that evidence supports a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in the news release. "Our subsequent investigation convinced us that burden could not be met."
Prosecutors say Contreras was suspected in a string of 31 thefts from tractor-trailers when an officer saw him on the porch of a home. The officer yelled at him "Anthony Stop!" but Contreras went inside. Contreras then emerged from the back door, where Ramsey and another officer were stationed. Ramsey said he ordered Contreras to show his hands.
According to a summary of Baker's findings, Ramsey said he fired on Contreras because Contreras' right arm dipped and he thought he was reaching for a gun. Ramsey's shot struck the left side of Contreras' face, seriously injuring his jaw, teeth and tongue.
Contreras did not have a gun but had a screwdriver in his pocket. Baker found that before trying to take Contreras into custody, the officers had been briefed that he was "known to flee and was considered dangerous."
According to Baker's findings, a witness told police three days before the shooting and immediately afterward that Contreras had said he would "rather shoot it out with police or make them think he had a weapon and be shot than return to jail." But Baker wrote that information wasn't known to prosecutors or the grand jury.
She said Contreras also made untrue statements to the grand jury and would not have been a credible witness at trial. And she noted that testimony from expert witnesses the defense was prepared to produce would support that Ramsey acted reasonably and justifiably.
Efforts to reach Contreras for his reaction weren't immediately successful. He doesn't have a listed phone number, and his attorney, Ross Charles Nigro Jr., didn't immediately return a phone call from the AP.
Police Chief Darryl Forté said in a statement that, "We respect the judicial process, and we are pleased that process ended in the right outcome in this situation." Ramsey, who has been on unpaid leave since he was indicted, will resume full duty, police said.
John P. O'Connor, an attorney for Ramsey, said in an email to the AP on Saturday that the five-year veteran of the police force and his family are "relieved and grateful for the dismissal of all criminal charges against him. He said Ramsey, who is assigned to the department's tactical enforcement unit, is "looking forward to returning to his duties as a Kansas City police officer."