To: The Wichita Kansas City Council and The Wichita Police Department
I am a reporter with Raise the Voices, and advocacy journalism organization. I am writing to discuss the case of John Paul Quintero.
As you are aware, on January 3, 2015, 23-year-old John Paul Quintero was drinking at a birthday party celebration. A fight between him and the husband of one of his cousins resulted in family members calling 911 because a knife was involved, but the situation was allegedly solved by John Paul’s father before police arrived. According to John Paul’s father, who was sitting in his truck when police arrived, officers immediately escalated the situation by pointing a rifle at both of them. John, who had his hands in the air, was tased by another officer, causing his hands to drop. In response, the officer shot John Paul twice in the chest. The officer would later claim they thought he was reaching for his waistband. According to numerous family members, however, John Paul was unarmed. He later died at the hospital.
In 2016, District Attorney Marc Bennett announced that no charges would be filed against the officer responsible for the death of John Paul Quintero. In 2017, the Wichita City Council voted to approve a settlement to the family of $285,000, but made sure to include language that assumes no responsibility on behalf of either the city nor the officer.
In response to the George Floyd protests over the summer, the City of Wichita released a Response to the Community. In this document, the City responded to numerous calls to action. Many of these responses begin with, “We agree.” Most notably, under the section labeled “Exhaust All Other Means Before Shooting,” the City quotes WPD policy:
“WPD policy and Kansas statute K.S. A. 21-5227 states: An officer is justified in using deadly force only when such officer reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to such officer or another person.”
If the City of Wichita believes that the officer involved in the case of John Paul Quintero adhered to this statute, why did the Wichita City Council feel compelled to pay his family over a quarter million dollars of taxpayer money? What criteria did the Wichita City Council use to assess the value of a life taken at $285,000 – attaching strings that absolved both the City and officer of any responsibility? And what steps have been taken to prevent such a callous response from ever being necessary again?
This letter will be posted publicly as part of our advocacy journalism, along with any response from your office.