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Kansas undersheriff charged in fatal beanbag shooting

September 5, 2018

This Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018 booking photo released by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation shows Virgil "Dusty" Brewer. The Kansas undersheriff who fatally shot a man at close range with a beanbag has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Brewer Wednesday at the Barber County Courthouse. (Kansas Bureau of Investigation via AP)

MEDICINE LODGE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas undersheriff who fatally shot a man with a beanbag round last year was charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents on Wednesday arrested Barber County Undersheriff Virgil “Dusty” Brewer, 60, at the Barber County Courthouse. He was charged by the Kansas Attorney General’s office in the Oct. 6, 2017 death of Steven Myers, 42, of Sun City.

Brewer’s bond was set at $15,000 and his first appearance is scheduled for Friday, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a news release. His bond requires him to avoid engaging in law enforcement work.

Myers was shot in the chest at close range after officers responded to a call about a man threatening people with a gun outside a bar in Sun City, about 110 miles (177 kilometers) west of Wichita. By the time officers arrived at the bar, Myers had left the area but deputies eventually found him in a shed. He was shot after he left the shed.

Myers’ widow, Kristina Myers, filed a federal lawsuit in November alleging law enforcement officials used excessive force when they killed her husband. The lawsuit contends police video shows Myers was unarmed and not threatening officers or trying to escape before Brewer shot him. Video from a body camera captured Sheriff Lonnie Small telling Brewer minutes before Myers was shot that with a little luck “he’ll just pass out and die,” according to Michael Kuckelman, who is representing the Myers family.

Small was later dismissed from the federal lawsuit but a judge ruled that he could be sued in state court.

Kristina Myers said in a news release Wednesday that she was pleased with the criminal indictment.

“I’m a jumble of emotions,” she said. “Nothing will ever bring my husband back, but now at least we’re a step closer to getting justice for his death. I’m not really surprised at today’s charges. It was really the only possible response, given the body camera video recordings.”

Kuckelman said in the news release that without the video recordings and audio, it might not have been possible to bring criminal or civil charges against Brewer.

The sheriff’s office acted “recklessly and callously” and tried to cover up what happened, he said.

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