Originally published on September 17, 2014, at NationofChange.org
The FBI is launching an investigation into a routine traffic stop that left a 17-year-old police officer’s son in critical condition. Although the Independence Police Officer claims his actions had been justified, witnesses report several inconsistencies with the cop’s version of events. The FBI and Missouri police are reviewing video footage to determine whether the officer involved should be charged with excessive force.
On the afternoon of September 14, Officer Tim Runnels pulled over 17-year-old Bryce Masters because his license plate matched a plate wanted for a traffic warrant. According to the police, Masters refused to cooperate with Officer Reynolds and resisted arrest.
“I believe he did crack the window but did not roll it down any further. He was just being completely uncooperative with the officer,” alleged Sgt. Darrell Schmidli. “The driver refused to exit the vehicle. A struggle ensued. A Taser was deployed by the officer. The driver was finally removed out of the car. A struggle ensued once he was moved out of the car.”
“There was a wrestling match behind the vehicle where he resisted,” stated Maj. Terry Storey of the Independence Police Department.
But according to witness statements and video footage, Officer Runnels’ account of the incident is full of inaccuracies. After inviting Masters over to play Xbox, 17-year-old Curtis Martes opened his front door to find his friend being pulled over by a patrol car. Officer Runnels approached Masters and ordered him to roll down his window.
“I hear him say from my porch he’s like ‘I can’t roll down my window it’s broke,’” recalled Martes. “He doesn’t have the cable that allows the electric window to work.”
When Officer Runnels asked Masters to exit the vehicle, Masters began to record the incident on his cell phone.
“He was like ‘what am I being arrested for?’ The cop just grabbed him and said ‘you’re under arrest,’” stated Martes.
Witnesses saw Officer Runnels tasing Masters in the chest before pulling him out of the car and have asserted the teenager did not attack the police officer. Hearing the teenager’s screams, Michelle Baker grabbed her cell phone and recorded Officer Runnels dragging Masters’ body to the sidewalk.
“The cop was like, ‘you want to mess with me,’ and pulled out his Taser and tased him. I thought he shot him. Then he pulled him out of the car, handcuffed him, and drug him around the car,” witness Michelle Baker said. “It looked like he hit his head on the concrete. You could see blood coming out of his mouth. The cop put his foot on his back and moved it back and forth like he was putting a cigarette out and asked him, ‘are you ready to get up now?’ You could tell the kid was going into convulsions.”
The son of a Kansas City Police Officer, Bryce Masters went into fatal cardiac arrhythmia and died on the sidewalk. Masters was in full cardiac arrest when emergency responders arrived and resuscitated him. Due to severe oxygen deprivation to his brain, Masters was transported to a local hospital and placed in a chemically induced coma. Bryce’s brother, Colin, told reporters that his brother might have stopped breathing for over five minutes.
According to reports, the license plate on Masters’ car was linked to a warrant belonging to a female who was not present at the scene. Witnesses and family members allege Officer Runnels used excessive force and misrepresented the facts to justify violating the teenager’s civil rights.
The Masters family released a statement declaring, “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.”