A Kansas City, Missouri police officer has filed a lawsuit after allegedly being told to target minority neighborhoods in order to make his ticket quota.
Edward Williams — who is white and a 21-year veteran of the Kansas City Police Department — said he and other officers were told to “target minority citizens” and “go to minority neighborhoods to write tickets because of the belief that it would be easier to write multiple citations for every stop.”
The lawsuit also claims that Williams was constantly subjected to “racially inflammatory rhetoric” about Black people and told not to wear his department-issued body camera for two or three hours daily while the camera charged, a violation of KCPD policy.
The 44-year-old noted in the lawsuit that former police chief Rick Smith told him and other police officers that they would be demoted to work on an overnight shift if they did not fulfill ticket quotas of 100 drivers monthly.
Williams says that after he reported the discrimination to his supervisors, they failed to document or investigate the accusations. He also claimed he was retaliated against, and the lawsuit states that the KCPD violated the Missouri Human Rights Act by subjecting Williams to racist rhetoric “minority officers would have certainly reported.”
The lawsuit also states that Williams was told by a captain to be “ready to kill” and to only respond to calls from white neighborhoods because they pay their taxes. Williams claims in the complaint that the captain told Williams to “approach every car with the mindset to be ready to kill everybody in the car and only respond to calls in white neighborhoods.”
Williams’ lawyer Gerald Gray II said the racism within the department is systematic.
“I’ve come to hear these types of stories over and over again in regard to, you know, police misconduct,” he said. “And not just isolated to individual officers, but really kind of it being systematic.”
Gray added that Williams was hoping the lawsuit would bring about change to the KCPD.
“He’s doing this for the fact that you know, he wants to police the right way, no other reason except for, you know, he’s hoping that this will bring about change.”
Current police chief Stacey Graves released a statement claiming that the department was dedicated to “equitable and fair” policing.
“Our department is dedicated to policing that is both equitable and fair in all aspects of our duties,” said Graves. “We do not direct enforcement activities based on demographics. We do direct traffic enforcement in high-crash locations as well as citizen traffic complaint locations. I find these allegations very concerning and will immediately ensure the Traffic Division is reminded to operate and enforce laws appropriately.”
The KCPD has a history of racist behavior. Detective Herb Robinson worked as a police officer for 30 years in Kansas City and says he’s only feared for his life two times — once when he was shot in the line of duty and once when he was pulled over by the KCPD.
Robinson was pulled over by two Kansas City police officers on March 11, 2022, he says, for no reason other than racial profiling. Robinson was wearing his uniform and said that he feared if he’d reached for his identification, he would have been shot.
“I’m like that deer in the headlights,” remembered Robinson. “My heart’s racing and pounding. I’m like, ‘What are you going to do next?’ ” Robinson’s experience was uncovered during an investigation of the KCPD’s racist practices that lasted a year. The two officers called Robinson a “retard” and a “f—g dumbass” for exiting the vehicle to show them they were targeting a police detective.
Civil rights activists and racial profiling experts said the stop was indicative of the toxic and racist culture in the KCPD, and at least two dozen current and former Black officers shared their experiences of racism and harassment from their colleagues. Former KCPD officer Scott Wells described that being Black in KCPD was like “being a mouse in a snake cage.”
Williams is seeking actual damages, non-economic damages as well as all associated court costs and fees.