A police officer who suffered “severe head injuries” in an altercation early Sunday with a Kansas City firefighter will need surgery, according to a statement issued Monday by Kansas City police.
The officer, who fatally shot firefighter Anthony Bruno, has been released from a hospital but will return for surgery once swelling subsides, the statement added.
Capt. Tye Grant, a police spokesman, confirmed Monday that the officer was Donald Hubbard, a 17-year veteran of the force and a 25-year-plus veteran of the Army National Guard.
The update was the first from police since Sunday following the encounter that left Bruno dead on the night he had celebrated his recent wedding.
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Hubbard was working in uniform in an off-duty capacity for a downtown business. The statement did not describe any change regarding his administrative status with the department.
The statement added some some details about what prompted the fight.
About 2:30 a.m. Sunday, the officer received information that someone had assaulted a taxicab driver in front of a hotel near 12th and Wyandotte streets, according to the police statement.
A separate police report regarding that alleged assault said the assailant got into an argument with the cab driver because the meter continued to run while he tried to pay the fare. The driver told police the man punched him in the back of the head and continued to strike him in the face with a closed fist and struck him on the right side of his torso.
When Hubbard tried to detain a suspect a block away, “the man begin to resist and then assault the officer,” according to the police statement.
The man, the statement added, “pinned the officer to the ground and struck him multiple times about his face and head. Fearing for his life, the officer eventually fired his handgun, striking the man.”
Doctors later pronounced Bruno, a six-year Fire Department veteran, dead at a hospital. The investigation into the incident continues, Grant said.
Fire Department colleagues continued to mourn Bruno’s death on Monday, said James Garrett, a department spokesman.
“Anthony Bruno was a third-generation firefighter with this department, and the department has very close ties with the Bruno family,” Garrett said. “We are very saddened.”
Bruno family members do not plan to issue any statement, Garrett said. “They are trying to cope with this. They are, of course, devastated.”
Mayor Sly James had no comment on the incident, except to say that he was saddened and “his thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted,” said Joni Wickham, a spokeswoman for the mayor.
Wickham said the chiefs of the city’s police and fire departments were “working through” the matter.