The death of John Paul Quintero is tragic. The 23-year-old recently moved to Wichita “to start a better future,” his family said, but he died after being shot by police Saturday night.
The shooting also shows the value of cameras on police officers.
Quintero was shot by one of two officers who responded to 911 calls reporting that an intoxicated Quintero was threatening family members with a knife. When the officers arrived, Quintero was in an SUV with his father.
According to the officers, Quintero was belligerent and threatening and would not comply with their orders. One officer used a Taser on Quintero, but it reportedly had no effect. When Quintero moved toward the officer and reached toward his waistband, the other officer shot him twice, according to police. He died early the next morning.
No knife was found.
Some members of Quintero’s family are upset with how police handled the disturbance, saying that police escalated the situation. “They got out of the vehicle ready to kill,” said Alina Quintero.
The Wichita Police Department placed the two officers on administrative leave, per department policy, and has begun an investigation. Interim Chief Nelson Mosley said the department would cooperate with all investigative agencies, including the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.
“We are committed to an open and honest investigation,” Mosley said.
The department also released audio of the 911 calls and transcripts of four calls related to the incident. The callers said that Quintero was “gonna kill somebody” and that he threatened his father with a knife. One caller said that Quintero was “kicking the door” and had a knife.
It’s clear that this was a very volatile situation, and police were appropriately on their guard when responding. Also, Quintero should have followed police commands – and should not have been threatening his family. But more information and witness statements are needed to determine exactly what happened.
It would have been helpful – to the family, the public and the police – if the officers had been wearing body cameras. Video could have shown whether the incident occurred as the officers described it.
The department announced in November that it plans to outfit all its officers with a camera by the end of this year. Though police in some cities have resisted cameras, Wichita’s police union supports the move, recognizing that the cameras can provide evidence that supports police officers.
It is sad that this incident ended so tragically.
For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee