Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Topeka police acted justifiably in firing 34 shots and killing man, DA’s report says

Tim Hrenchir, Topeka Capital-Journal

Five Topeka police officers acted justifiably Oct. 13 when they fired 34 gunshots, killing a man who had raised a knife above his head and charged at an officer, said Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay.

Kagay made public a report revealing his findings regarding the fatal shooting of Taylor L. Lowery, 33, in a Kwik Shop parking lot at 4500 S.W. Topeka Blvd.

“The investigation revealed that each of the 34 projectiles fired was justified,” the report said.

The names of the officers haven’t been made public. The district attorney’s office won’t seek to prosecute them criminally, Kagay said.

Lowery was found to have been under the influence of amphetamine, methamphetamine and cocaine at the time of his death, he said.

What led to the Oct. 13 police shooting?

This image of 33-year-old Taylor L. Lowery, taken from police body camera video recorded at Lowery’s sister’s mobile home prior to an incident in which he was fatally shot early Oct. 13 by Topeka police officers, was among images accompanying a report created by Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay.

Kagay made public a 15-page report compiled after reviewing results of an investigation the Kansas Bureau of Investigation conducted into the situation involved.

The report was accompanied by 27 still photo images, including 25 taken as the situation was in progress.

Kagay’s report said the chain of events involved began just before 12:30 a.m. Oct. 13 when Lowery’s sister called 911 to report he was trying to force his way into the bedroom in which she was barricaded in her home at 4842 S.W. Topeka Blvd., Lot No. 6. The woman’s name wasn’t given in the report.

Police arrived, saw Lowery holding a butcher knife inside the mobile home at 12:39 a.m. and ordered him to drop it, but he fled through a rear door, the report said.

It said police caught up with Lowery outside the mobile home, but he waved the knife around in a “fighting stance” while holding a socket wrench in his other hand.

Police reacted at 12:41 a.m. by putting out a “Signal 13” call indicating they were in distress and needed assistance, the report said.

It said Lowery went back into the mobile home, where officers subsequently forced their way in.

Lowery then came toward officers inside the mobile home before leaving it through a rear door and driving away in a Chevrolet Equinox, the report said.

It said Lowery drove to the Kwik Shop at 4500 S.W. Topeka Blvd., parked the Equinox, approached another vehicle on foot and violently tried to pull a woman out of it.

What triggered Topeka police to shoot?

Police were watching, and reported over police radio that a carjacking was being attempted, the report said.

It said officers got out of their vehicles, identified themselves as police and began yelling commands to Lowery as he tried to pull the woman from the car.

Lowery turned toward a police sergeant, screamed, raised the knife over his head and charged him, the report said.

It said the sergeant backed away but fired three times when Lowery was five to 10 feet away.

A police detective shot Lowery about the same time, which was 12:44 a.m., and he “went down,” the report said.

Meanwhile, three other officers, one of them a sergeant, had taken up positions near Lowery, it said.

The report said he got up, grabbed an object and began moving again toward the sergeant before the three other officers shot him. The object was found to have been a socket wrench.

Officers then began rendering aid to Lowery, who was pronounced deceased at 12:57 a.m. at the scene, the report said.

“The autopsy performed on Lowery determined that he was struck by multiple projectiles and 10 projectiles were recovered during that examination,” Kagay’s report said. “The most significant injuries consisted of three gunshot wounds to the abdomen and three gunshot wounds to the chest. These gunshot wounds were determined to be the cause of death.”

No one else was hurt.

Was the incident caught on police body camera?

The five officers subsequently spent time on paid administrative leave, as is standard protocol for the Topeka Police Department, said Topeka police Chief Bryan Wheeles.

“The involved officers placed themselves in imminent life-threatening danger in order to fulfill their obligation to protect the public,” Kagay’s report said. “It was only through their efforts in utilizing deadly force that they were able to finally bring an end to the danger posed by Lowery.”

The sergeant and detective who initially shot Lowery weren’t assigned or wearing body cameras, and the locationwhere the interaction took place was in a blind spot of the Kwik Shop cameras, Kagay’s report said.

Body cameras worn by the other officers involved showed what happened after the initial shots were fired, it said.

Contact Tim Hrenchir at or 785-213-5934.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Topeka police found to have acted justifiably in killing knife-wielding man

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