LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) – A Kansas City police officer who sprayed chemicals on a 15-year-old girl during protests against racial injustice last summer was charged with assault on Friday.
38-year-old officer Nicholas McQuillen will later appear in court, Jackson County attorneys said after the county’s grand jury filed the charges.
According to the indictment, the girl was with her father, siblings and friends at protests along the Country Club Plaza on May 30th, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer. Protesters were on the sidewalks while police lined the streets.
Police said the girl’s father, who is black, was repeatedly told to stay on the sidewalk or he would be arrested, but the man later said he did not hear those orders.
Videos show the father standing in the street 1 or 2 feet from the sidewalk yelling at officers. The girl was next to him, according to court records.
The video shows McQuillen and another officer approaching the man and girl, but they do not make a statement to them or tell them that they are under arrest according to court documents. At this point, the man is back on the sidewalk and there is “no evidence of any information regarding the need for immediate arrest (of the man),” the documents say, and no evidence that McQuillen has any supervisor or officer other than that contacted someone who was with him.
The videos also show McQuillen and the other officer trying to drag the man into the street while his family and friends try to keep him on the sidewalk. The movement caused the girl to be between McQuillen and the man, causing her hands to touch McQuillen’s vest.
At that point, McQuillen raised the MK-90 fog machine, a chemical spray used to control the crowd, and sprayed the girl on the face, according to court documents. She told investigators that she had pain in her eyes and a burning sensation in her arms, but did not see a doctor.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether McQuillen had a lawyer.
The fraternal Kansas City Police Department said in a statement that it was disappointed that the prosecutor would accuse McQuillen of “using the lowest violence at his disposal,” the Kansas City Star reported.
“We believe these charges are of no value and will fully support FOP Officer McQuillen if he challenges them in court,” the statement said.
Attorney Tom Porto, who represents the victim, said in a statement that the officer’s behavior was “absolutely unjustifiable”.
“A 15-year-old girl had the equivalent of bear spray sprayed on her face from inches away,” said Porto. “The grand jury got it right.”
Kansas City police spokeswoman Donna Drake said McQuillen had been in the department since 2014 and is attached to the Patrol Bureau.
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