Smith County Attorney Tabitha Owen announced today that her office has completed the review of the December 15, 2018 shooting incident involving troopers from the Kansas Highway Patrol and a juvenile.
The investigation determined that on the morning of December 15, 2018, Smith County Sheriff’s personnel responded to a 911 call in rural Smith County, Kansas. Officers were informed of an attempted murder and notified that the juvenile was armed and had fled on horseback. The Smith County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) in locating the suspect. Smith County Deputies and KHP troopers spent the next few hours attempting to locate and apprehend the suspect.
Eventually, the officers made contact with the suspect who had ridden a horse into a wooded-draw in on a large tract of farm ground. KHP identified themselves and attempted to negotiate a peaceful surrender with the juvenile. The negotiation continued for approximately two hours. During the negotiation, law enforcement heard three gunshots coming from the juvenile’s location. Later, the juvenile began to run toward a team of KHP troopers, he then raised his arms and fired a gun at the KHP team. Two troopers returned fire, striking the juvenile. The juvenile was taken into custody by the KHP and taken by ambulance for medical treatment. The investigation of the case was turned over to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI).
On January 11, 2019, the KBI turned over the results of the investigation to the County Attorney. Owen said that her office reviewed the conduct of the two Kansas Highway Patrol Troopers that discharged their weapons, as well as the conduct of the juvenile. Owen announced that the juvenile has been charged with eight separate crimes, including: one count of Attempted Murder in the First Degree (Level 1 Person Felony), one count of Aggravated Kidnapping (level 1 Person Felony) and six counts of Aggravated Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer (Level 6 Felonies). Owen further announced that the conduct of the law enforcement officers involved has been determined to be justified as both self-defense and defense of others, and her office would not be seeking any criminal charges against those officers.
The KBI will continue handling the investigation of this case. Anyone with information related to this crime should report that information directly to the KBI. The charges are allegations of criminal conduct only. Any person charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a Court of law.