KCTV5 Investigates: Alleged harassment by KCPD officers
Posted by Chris Oberholtz, Multimedia Producer - email
By Stacey Cameron, Investigative Reporter - bio | email
By Kelly Just, Special Projects Executive Producer - email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Morgan Humphrey wishes she could erase what happened during the Kansas City Royals home game the evening of April 9. The 23-year-old Liberty woman consumed too much alcohol.
"We actually started with wine here and beer bongs when we got there," Humphrey said.
By 9:30 p.m., an intoxicated Humphrey was in trouble.
According to the incident report, the drunken woman got involved in some kind of altercation and was ejected from Kauffman Stadium.
Instead of leaving the property as ordered, Humphrey became belligerent with members of the Kansas City Police Department and was arrested for trespassing and resisting an officer.
The official report shows Humphrey could have faced even more charges when she took a swing at one of those officers.
"Honestly, it was a blackout moment for me," Humphrey said. "I don't remember any of that."
While in handcuffs, the report states that Humphrey threatened to get even with KCPD officers by spitting in their food at the Liberty Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant where she worked - a place that is popular with police.
Humphrey says she doesn't remember that but realizes she cannot deny it, given her level of intoxication.
"If I said it, I said it," Humphrey said.
Humphrey assumed the next time she would hear anything from KCPD would be at her June court appearance.
"What happened at the Royals stadium should have been left and handled by the courts," she said, "Not by cops after the fact."
Within days of the arrest, two officers went online to post information about Humphrey, the drunken incident and the spitting threat in particular.
Neither of the officers were involved in the arrest, but Humphrey said she had served both Officer Matt Phelps and Detective Chase Crowell at the restaurant.
"They (the police) had a goal to get me fired by Monday from my place of employment at that time," Humphrey said. "It worked."
According to Humphrey, her firing from the Buffalo Wild Wings in Liberty was caused by calls made to management about the Facebook posts.
When asked for comment about the firing, the restaurant refused but said that Humphrey had been a good employee.
Ken Novak is a professor of criminal justice at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an expert in police protocol. He thinks this type of off-duty conduct on Facebook probably crossed the line.
"It could potentially jeopardize the safety of the individual arrested," Novak said. "It could potentially jeopardize the case that the prosecutor is bringing, particularly if it's perceived to be vindictive or retaliatory in some manner."
Even before Phelps and Crowell took to Facebook, Humphrey said she began receiving text messages from two unknown phone numbers. In the texts provided to KCTV5, one of those senders relayed intimate details about the arrest. The other sender threatened to call the Missouri Department of Family Services about her young daughter.
Over the next two weeks, both senders called Humphrey names and promised to keep texting.
"Just some of the things that they have said, the way they know so much about what happened," Humphrey said.
A KCTV5 reporter contacted KCPD's legal department and discovered no one else had requested a copy of Humphrey's incident report.
"I get scared. I don't come home by myself," Humphrey said. "(I) make somebody walk me to my car half the time."
The KCTV5 reporter called both phone numbers attached to the text messages Humphrey received, but no one answered.
KCPD's public information officer, Tye Grant, said neither of the numbers belonged to a department phone. Grant also said that the department does not keep a record of officers' personal cell numbers.
KCTV5 confirmed that the internal affairs department at KCPD is looking into Humphrey's claims of off-duty harassment by its officers.
By phone, Chief Daryl Forte said the investigation would be put on the fast track. Forte added that a memo would go out immediately, warning officers against discussing department business on social media.
That memo is something Novak considers a necessary move for all police departments.
"It takes only one negative incident to paint the police poorly, and it takes 1,000 positive interactions or incidents to paint the police more positively," Novak said.
Novak suspects this incident may well push KCPD into adopting an official policy about off-duty use of social media.
Without one of those currently in place, he doesn't anticipate there being any discipline taken against Phelps or Crowell unless the internal affairs investigators can connect those texts to someone inside the police department.
Both Phelps and Crowell deny having anything to do with those text messages.
The two men did own up to the Facebook postings tied to their names, saying that they had a genuine concern about Humphrey spitting in food.
Crowell said several other officers were posting about the stadium incident. KCTV5 has not been able to confirm that claim.
Meanwhile, Humphrey, who has found a new job, would like to have her day in court and be able to move on.
"I hope it's going to end simply, but I don't feel like it will," Humphrey said. "I feel like it's going to be an ongoing thing for awhile."
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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