Relatives of a suspected shoplifter who was fatally shot by a Kansas City-area sheriff’s deputy are demanding that the case be reopened after the deputy recently was charged with shooting a scooter rider in the back while trying to arrest her.
Donald Sneed Jr. said 29-year-old Jackson County sheriff’s Deputy Lauren Michael is “trigger happy” after she was charged Wednesday with first-degree assault and armed criminal action in the August shooting that wounded Brittany Simeck. Sneed’s son, Donald Sneed III, was fatally shot by Michael two years ago outside a Walmart in Raytown, reports The Kansas City Star.
In both shootings, Michael said she fired during struggles over her stun gun.
Michael’s bond is set at $30,000. No attorney is listed for her in online court records. The Sneed family already filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
Mike Mansur, a spokesman for Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, said prosecutors have reviewed the Sneed case, decided not to file charges, and do not plan to look at it again. Baker said in a statement that “each case stands on its own fact pattern” and that her office doesn’t find Michael’s actions “reasonable or lawful” in Simeck’s shooting.
In that case, Michael was conducting traffic enforcement patrols in a bar and entertainment area with other deputies when they noticed two people allegedly riding a scooter on the wrong side of the street. A deputy followed them in a patrol car and moments later collided with the scooter. The male driver of the scooter was immediately arrested, but Simeck ran away.
Michael caught up with Simeck and a struggle ensued. Michael pulled out her service handgun and shot Simeck in the back and buttocks.
In the charging documents, prosecutors allege that Michael was not truthful when she told investigators that Simeck tried to grab her stun gun. Simeck told investigators that Michael shot her in the back as she tried to run away, according to court records. Simeck, who is retired from the U. S. Coast Guard, wasn’t charged in the incident.
“We respect the hard job law enforcement does, however law enforcement is not above the law and when excessive force is used it is imperative that they are held accountable,” said Mike Yonke, a civil attorney who is representing Simeck.
The other shooting happened in May 2017 when employees at the Walmart where Michael was working off-duty security stopped Sneed III because they suspected him of shoplifting. He allegedly became violent, and Michael tried to help the employees. Michael later said Sneed grabbed her stun gun and shocked her in the neck with it before she shot and killed him.
The father, Sneed Jr., said he doesn’t believe that. He said Michael shot his son multiple times and that his son wasn’t attacking her when she fired the shots, but rather was being held down. The sheriff’s office said he had been wanted on felony warrants for robbery and tampering with a motor vehicle. Michael was given the medal of valor for her actions during the incident, which the family’s attorney, Jermaine Wooten, described as “almost insulting.”
Michael referenced that shooting in the moments immediately following the August incident involving Simeck, telling her supervisor: “I am not as comfortable with this one as the last one,” according to court documents.
Jackson County Sheriff Daryl Forté Michael said in a tweet that Michael has been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the criminal case stemming from Simeck’s shooting, which is a standard practice when criminal charges are filed. He declined further comment.