Monday, November 20, 2023

Joplin police officer who accidentally killed Kansas child asks for restraining order, injunction to prevent release of his name


A Joplin Police Department SWAT sniper who fired the fatal shot in the March 26, 2022 shooting death of a Baxter Springs child during a hostage standoff, filed a motion in Jasper County Circuit Court today asking that the City of Joplin not release his name.

The request by the officer, who is referred to as "John Doe" in the petition, comes as the city is dealing with Sunshine Law requests from KCUR, a Kansas City public radio station, and from Nathaniel Stephens Dagley. City officials formed John Doe's lawyer, Sean P. McCauley of the Kansas City firm of McCauley & Roach, LLC Thursday that it would be releasing the unredacted documents unless the court intervenes and it could happen as soon as Tuesday.

John Doe is asking Judge Dean Dankelson for a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction barring the release of his name.

Joplin Police was called in for assistance March 26, 2022 for a standoff at 340 Wyandotte Avenue in Baxter Springs. A female caller told Baxter Springs dispatch she needed helped and when officers arrived, the woman, Taylor Dawn Shutte, 27, was shot to death by Eli Crawford, 37, who then went back into the house with their 2-year-old daughter, Clesslyn Crawford (pictured).

Crawford began shooting at officers from the Baxter Springs Police Department and the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, who called in additional assistance from the Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Joplin Police Department SWAT including John Doe.

According to a report issued in September by the Cherokee County District Attorney's office and including the conclusions of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Eli Crawford fired more than 90 rounds from the trailer window.

Crawford offered a deal to negotiators, according to the report.

"Send my sister and get my baby and everything is fine. Other than that, I have hand grenades and fully automatic weapons that I am getting ready to use. Do you hear me? If you don't do this, then you are going to have a bunch of dead people on your hands."

Negotiations continued for the next 20 minutes interspersed with shots from the trailer. At that point, John Doe took the fatal shot, which he described in the report.

"I was presented with his upper torso and his arm. And I could tell it was that, because I could see the triangle of light between his left — his torso and his arm. I aimed at the left side of the frame of the window without hitting the framed — without hitting the frame, and I aimed up to where I thought it would be about his pectoral region and I fired a round.

"I reloaded. Just seconds later, there was a muffled shot. It didn't sound like a normal gunshot I had been hearing. The other two snipers on the west side, watching the front door, came over the radio and said they heard a muffled, a muffled, or a round fired from inside."

The muffled shot, the report says, was Crawford killing himself after John Doe's bullet killed his daughter.

Following the investigation, Cherokee County District Attorney's office determined no charges would be filed against John Doe and that he was justified in using deadly force against Eli Crawford, the person he thought he was shooting.

John Doe was also cleared in the Joplin Police Department internal investigation.

John Doe's petition says that he has been the target of an anonymous Facebook group Blue Wall of Silence, which has offered a cash reward "for the name of the Joplin, Missouri officer who fired the lethal bullet into the skull of a little toddler in pink pajamas last march in Kansas," and which has posted other messages the petition describes as "disturbing."

The release of Doe's name could cause harm to the officer and his family, the petition said.

Here, the evidence cited above shows that the release of Officer Doe’s name “is reasonably likely to pose a clear and present danger to the safety of” him and perhaps his family. As such, there the Court is likely to determine that Officer Doe’s name “shall be closed and shall be redacted from any record” disclosed by the City pursuant to the Dagley and KCUR requests, as well as any similar future requests.

A restraining order and permanent injunction would do no damage to KCUR or Dagley, the petition says and releasing the rest of the information to KCUR would take care of the public's right to know.

The public interest is not compelling. To the extent KCUR is advancing the public’s interest, it will immediately receive all information related to the March 26, 2022, incident except for Petitioner’s name. Thus, KCUR, and ultimately the public, will know all there is to know about the incident except for Petitioner’s name while this matter is being fully decided on the merits.

John Doe, the City of Joplin, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office and KBI are defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit filed earlier this year by Clesslyn Crawford's grandmother.


Anonymous said...

While this is horrible there is no reason to release the name of the officer. That toddler’s father is responsible for her death with his own idiotic actions. That officer and his family would be in danger and they deal with this pain every day of their lives as it is. He was doing his duty.

Anonymous said...

10:27 response was probably written by a cop. I agree the father was guilty of idiotic actions - however that does not relieve the shooter of acting recklessly (know your target before shooting). Would not the shooters name need to be released if their is a lawsuit?? Regardless - the shooter is going to have to live with the results of his careless actions.

Anonymous said...

It was reckless....JPD had just lost a couple of officers they were out for blood

Anonymous said...

Regardless how you feel about this, it’s public information… and should be made public, I’m surprised that nobody has said his name. Follow the case and go to the court and you will know who did it.

Anonymous said...

tO protect AnD sERvE

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree 100 %

Anonymous said...

I believe the Public should be allowed to know the Truth - - The Government has to many things they keep hidden - they need to be Honest and Up-Front - Whether this was an Accident or not.

This was an Innocent Child - - She is the Victim of Reckless Act. Everyone thinks they are some John Wayne / Trained Sniper / - When a few Years ago in Missouri - - You had to put less Time and Training in to be Police Officer than it took to become a Cosmologist to Cut Hair.

So they Require a Policeman out caring Guns on the Street Less Training than they allow a Person Cutting someone's Hair - Does that Sound Good to You??? Well that's the Truth...

This Child needs Justice - - So Her Estate - Parents, Siblings - Whoever should File a Lawsuit against this Police Office, this Police Department, this County, this City - Who is responsible for putting this Police Officer on the Streets...

He should not be given - any way to Hide Behind the Badge - When we allow this - we are stepping over the Rights of all - He Pulled the Trigger - He is Responsible - He needs to be Accountable for what he did... If this allowed - this is a Great Injustice to all....