JoCo DA says Lenexa officer’s use of potentially deadly force was justified in November incident

Jay Senter - January 9, 2020 7:29 am
Police arrested Tevin Desean White after a chase that started in Lenexa came to an end at Blackfish and Midland in Shawnee Nov. 23. Photo credit Mike Frizzell.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe on Wednesday announced that his office has determined a Lenexa police officer’s use of force against the driver of a car fleeing the scene of an investigation in November was justified, and that the officer will not face criminal charges.

The officer, who was not named in the report released by the district attorney’s office, was investigating a Chevrolet Impala he initially thought was tied to series of warrants when the car made an “erratic” turn onto a dead-end street. When the officer later attempted to block the Impala from leaving the driveway of a house where it had parked, it fled.

“Instead of stopping, the Impala drove forward into the yard of the residence — an attempt to get back onto the street,” reads the district attorney’s office report. “The Officer drove his car down the street to block this maneuver. The Impala then struck the passenger side of the police car.”

At this point, the officer exited his vehicle and drew his weapon.

“The Impala was slowly moving toward the Officer. The Officer yelled at the driver to stop. The Impala accelerated toward the Officer,” says the report. “The Officer barely got out of the way of the Impala as it surged toward him. He fired seven rounds into the driver’s side of the Impala, hitting the driver in the arm. The Officer suffered a minor injury when the car struck him.”

At this point, the Impala fled the scene, prompting a pursuit by Lenexa and Shawnee police units. The chase ended when the driver, later identified as Tevin Desean White, triggered a multi-vehicle collision involving a pickup truck and minivan at Lackman and Blackfish, after which he was arrested by police.

Howe’s office said that the officer had a reasonable belief that White was trying to “run him over,” a belief that justified the use of potentially deadly force.

“Under the totality of the circumstances, it was reasonable for The Lenexa Officer to conclude that it was necessary to shoot at Tevin White in order to stop an imminent threat to his life. This is true when considering that he had literally seconds to make a life or death decision, as is the standard in these cases,” reads the report.

White has been in Johnson County Jail on charges of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer since Nov. 24. He’s being held on $200,000 bail and has a court date set for Feb. 26.

The district attorney’s office’s full release on the investigation is embedded below.

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