Kansas City protests continue after officer in violent arrest of pregnant woman remains on the job
Deja Stallings was nine months pregnant two weeks ago when police manhandled her during a demonstration in Kansas City
Deja Stallings says she was just trying to protect a friend when she was arrested during a demonstration in Kansas City, Missouri two weeks ago. During the arrest, Stallings was thrown to the ground and kneed in the back by a police officer who remains on the job. As it turns out, the same police officer was also returned to the street after fatally shooting an unarmed Black man in March.
Now protesters are fighting to remove the city’s chief of police, Rick Smith. They’ve occupied City Hall for the last 14 days seeking justice in Stalling’s case and an overhaul of the entire department, reports Yahoo News.
Stallings had her baby girl, Dsyre, this morning but her lawyer, Stacy Shaw, says the baby struggled with an elevated heart rate and had to be treated in the intensive care unit.
“We want to hold the police officer and KCPD accountable through the court of law for what happened to Deja,” said Shaw. “We are pushing for the police revision of their use-of-force policy to include pregnant women … and we are looking to have budget revisions to end this cycle of violence.”
As reported by theGrio, Stallings says she was in attendance at a demonstration at a gas station to honor a victim of violence organized by a local activist. Police allege she was one of the people hindering the arrest of a man on the scene they said was a ‘trespasser.’ The gas stations’ security guard called police alleging a fight was in progress but Stallings said she was just a bystander.
“[The police] came down there twice … harassing us,” Stallings, 25, said to Yahoo News. “Then they left and came back again, saying [one man] was trespassing. I was out there like everybody else trying to record [on her phone] and the officer pushed me. When he pushed me, I told him, ‘Don’t push me, because you don’t have the right to push me.’ He said, ‘You effing going to jail.’ That’s when he threw me down on my stomach and put his knee in my back.”
Stallings was issued a citation for hindering arrest. The officer was neither disciplined nor taken off duty and Kansas City police declined to name him. But Stallings’ lawyer says his name is Blayne Newton, a Kansas City police officer who killed an unarmed man, Donnie Sanders, in March during a pursuit after a traffic stop.
Activists told ABC News the city’s police department has an ongoing problem with brutality and want the department defunded by at least 50%, something that has drawn support from members of City Council.
Councilman Eric Bunch said at a rally in support of Stallings last week that the city’s $272M police budget is more than the budgets of other essential city services combined but that money hasn’t led to any decrease in violent crime.
“We literally do not have the money to support the vital health care and quality of life issues precisely because we have resigned ourselves to a reality in which law enforcement is the only tool to address these complex issues,” he told ABC.
Given the persistence of state-sanctioned brutality in the Black community, Stallings told ABC News in a statement released by her lawyer, that her then-unborn daughter was a “victim of police violence” that she hoped would be the “last child who is a victim of KCPD.”
Smith says the City Hall occupation will continue until Stallings sees some justice after the violent arrest.
“We have stated that we will occupy the seat of government, right here on this lawn, until our demands are met or we are forcibly and violently removed from the property,” Shaw told ABC. “And if we are violently removed, we’ll be back the next day.”