Crime & Courts

Wichita police release details in traffic stop; officer fatally shot driver, 26 (+video)

2015: Wichita officer shoots man during west-side traffic stop

Interim Police Chief Nelson Mosley provides details of an officer-involved shooting during a traffic stop late on the night of Aug. 22 on Kellogg Drive. (Stan Finger/The Wichita Eagle)
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Interim Police Chief Nelson Mosley provides details of an officer-involved shooting during a traffic stop late on the night of Aug. 22 on Kellogg Drive. (Stan Finger/The Wichita Eagle)

The Wichita police officer who was dragged for an extended period during a traffic stop before shooting and killing the driver late Saturday night has been released from the hospital, authorities said Monday.

Interim Police Chief Nelson Mosley identified the driver in the Saturday night incident as 26-year-old Nicholas Garner, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer and family,” Mosley said. “We are thankful the officer was not critically injured ... We also want to express our condolences to the family of the deceased.”

While the investigation is ongoing, Mosley gave this account:

At 10:10 p.m. Saturday, the officer — who has been on the force for more than six years — pulled over a silver Prius for a traffic violation in the 6100 block of West Kellogg.

The Prius pulled into the parking lot next to the Sam’s Club fuel station. During the traffic stop, the officer was talking to Garner, who had the driver’s door of the Prius open.

For reasons not yet clear, Garner began to drive away. The officer leaned into the vehicle in an attempt to stop it and became lodged inside. Garner continued to drive as the officer’s legs hung outside the vehicle.

Garner drove in a circle around the fuel pumps, striking the officer’s patrol car and a concrete barrier before looping around the fuel station at least two more times. The Prius jumped a barrier between Sam’s and the McDonald’s to the west, striking an occupied vehicle in the McDonald’s lot and prompting it to spin out.

The Prius looped around the McDonald’s lot with the officer still hanging outside the vehicle, before Garner turned east in the westbound Kellogg Drive. As Garner drove east, he nearly struck three other vehicles and a motorcycle before colliding with a westbound car.

At that point, the officer fired several shots with his gun, killing Garner. The officer then fell from the Prius, but was unable to call for help.

Several witnesses came to the officer’s aid, and one used the officer’s radio microphone to alert 911 to what had happened. Garner was pronounced dead at the scene shortly before 10:30 p.m.

Dozens of area law enforcement vehicles converged on the scene, Mosley said.

“We are extremely grateful for the assistance of every citizen who helped on scene,” he said.

Investigators are still seeking any video and eyewitness accounts of the incident, Mosley said. Anyone with information or video is being asked to call the homicide section at 316-268-4182.

The officer who killed Garner is on administrative leave in accordance with departmental policy, Mosley said. He suffered cuts, bruises and other injuries in the incident.

The way in which witnesses quickly came to the officer’s aid “makes me feel real good,” Mosley said. “We appreciate any citizen that comes to the aid of our officers.”

Garner was released from prison on May 27 after serving more than two years for drug convictions, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records. He initially was ordered to serve 18 months of probation for possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute and cocaine possession in 2010 but landed in Hutchinson Correctional Facility after failing multiple drug tests in 2012, according to Sedgwick County District Court documents.

He also has juvenile convictions for battering a law enforcement officer and aggravated battery as well as misdemeanor convictions as an adult for marijuana possession, possessing or consuming alcohol while underage, disorderly conduct and transporting an open container, court records show.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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