A Missouri cop who left a teenager in a coma last year after the young man attempted to video record a traffic stop was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday.
It was a rare decision considering grand juries tend to believe cops can get away with murder. But the victim in this case, Bryce Masters, is the son of a Kansas City cop.
Independence police officer Tim Runnels, a former Kansas City cop himself, was indicted on two counts, but details will remain sealed until Monday, when he makes his first court appearance.
The court will also likely release video evidence against Runnels, including the one recorded from Bryce’s phone as well as the footage from his own dash cam.
Masters’ heart stopped when the probes were fired into his chest. He was without oxygen for an extended period of time, and Runnels’ actions during the time before the first paramedics arrived were to be part of the grand jury review.
Runnels said he smelled marijuana coming from within the vehicle that Masters was in and that Masters repeatedly interfered with his investigation, forcing him to attempt to pull the teen from the vehicle.
An eyewitness recorded part of the encounter, and that video has been made public. Masters’ recorded his arrest and inadvertently recorded his collapse via his smartphone. That video along with the officer’s dash-cam video has not been made public.
KCTV5 was the only media outlet inside the federal courtroom when the grand jury forewoman handed the indictment to Magistrate Judge John T. Maughmer, who then sealed the documents.
Masters is the son of a Kansas City police officer. Runnels worked at KCPD from 2007 to 2010. Runnels worked for the Independence Police Department for nearly three years.
After the incident, Independence police made no mention of the fact that Bryce tried to record the traffic stop, even though they did confiscate his phone as “evidence.”
Investigators say Masters wouldn’t cooperate with the officer, and the officer used his taser. Police say they found drug paraphernalia in Masters’ car.
In court documents, police officer Tim Runnels states he smelled the odor of marijuana coming from inside Masters’ car when the teen rolled down the window, but would not roll it all the way down telling the officer, “why? I can hear you.”
Officer Runnels states he told him to get out of the car several times with Masters replying, “why, am I under arrest?”
According to court documents, Masters braced himself in the car so the officer could not get him out and was tased inside the car. Masters ended up on the ground, handcuffed.
Officer Runnels states Masters did not comply with his command to move to the side of the road, so he grabbed Masters from behind and carried him to the side of the road where, according to an affidavit, Masters began to suffer from some sort of medical emergency. What the affidavit does not say is if Officer Runnels provided medical aid to Masters before the ambulance arrived.
But several witnesses told a different story, that Runnels yanked Bryce out the car when he started recording, handcuffing him and dropping him on his face on the sidewalk, which sent him into convulsions, causing his heart to stop.
One witness who began recording after the incident captured Runnels standing over Masters’ limp body with his foot on him as if to prevent the handcuffed teen from standing up and sprinting away. At no time during the 3:20 video did Runnels seem concerned for Masters’ “medical emergency.”