Shawnee police officer who killed suspect during armed disturbance will not face charges

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A Shawnee police officer who fired two rifle rounds February 18, halting an armed disturbance and killing a suspect at a Shawnee QuikTrip was justified and will not face charges, District Attorney Steve Howe said at a Monday press conference.

The officer, who was not identified in Howe’s summary of the officer-involved shooting investigation, was justified in firing on Brett Marshall Smiley that Sunday morning to defend himself and others against the threat Smiley posed, Howe said. Smiley, a white man in his 30s, died from two rounds from a rifle after he fired a 9 mm pistol into the ceiling of the convenience store and suggested he needed hostages, the report said.

Toxicology showed he had methamphetamine in his system. On talking with his family members, Howe said the man, who did not appear to have a settled address, also had long struggled with mental health and drug use issues.

Howe described a chaotic and bizarre morning that began at about 10:30 a.m. at a Hardee’s at 815 S. Parker Street in Olathe.

The first call to law enforcement was about a naked man with a knife inside the restaurant’s dining area. The man, later identified as Smiley, had come into the restaurant after pulling up to the drive-through window in his dark Dodge Ram 1500 pickup and asking an employee to cut his penis off, the report said.

Still naked and carrying a knife, he entered the restaurant but did not threaten anyone and left when ordered to by employees, the report said.

Once back on the road, the pickup headed north onto Kansas Highway 7, where the driver was reported firing a handgun several times into the air as he drove. Olathe police later collected six spent 9 mm cartridges that were confirmed as coming from the handgun Smiley had with him later at the QT.

The first calls from the Shawnee QuikTrip, at 20605 Shawnee Mission Parkway started coming in at 11:11 a.m.

According to the report, Smiley pulled into the parking area and sat in the truck for around 15 minutes before entering, this time clad in sweatpants but barefoot and shirtless.

Smiley walked in through the store’s east entrance up to the center of the store, raised his arm and fired into the ceiling with the 9 mm Luger with an extended magazine. He told everyone to get on the floor and also ordered bystanders to “call the cops,” according to the report.

As many as two dozen people may have been inside the store when Smiley walked in, Howe said, although it was difficult to estimate because many fled the store, some of whom went outside to warn others away or call 911. There were also customers outside at the gas pumps warning people away, he said.

“It is a very busy store at that time and we’re lucky no one got injured,” Howe said.

However, around ten people who were inside and closer to Smiley remained on the floor. That included a couple in their 70s getting at the coffee counter. They said Smiley grabbed the back of the woman’s coat and told her to get up.

According to her account, Smiley said “they want me to have a hostage,” and refused money she offered, also ignoring her husband’s offer to take her place. Smiley eventually walked away from them. The couple reported Smiley seemed not to be tracking things and was mumbling and asking when the police would come.

Three Shawnee Police officers arrived and began positioning themselves outside while trying to see past the window glare and poster ads. As Smiley approached the east exit, one officer ordered him to drop his gun, the report said. However Smiley did not comply and appeared to level his gun toward the police officers, according to officer testimony.

Howe said authorities don’t know where or how Smiley obtained the gun. Smiley has had a criminal history and run-ins with law enforcement in the past, he said. But he has not consistently lived in Johnson County.

At the press conference, Howe said Smiley’s family described a long struggle with their son’s substance abuse and some mental health issues. While sad at losing him, Howe said they were understanding.

Although mental health law enforcement agencies have co-responder programs to address people in mental health crises, this was a case where there wasn’t time to call in a co-responder, Howe said.

“Johnson County provides a lot of resources and a lot of programs to assist those who need them,” Howe said, adding that many officers now have crisis intervention training. “We do a lot of amazing work. But it doesn’t solve all situations. In these critical incidents there’s no time for a co-responder to be there.”

“This is happening in seconds or minutes and officers are having to make life or death decisions,” he said. “Things can turn on a dime and then officers are left with, I’ve got to either save lives or do nothing.”

Howe urged residents who know someone suffering mental health issues to call and ask for professional help. “If we can stop one or two of these incidents then we’d be really happy about avoiding having to do these kinds of press conferences.”

About the author

Roxie Hammill
Roxie Hammill

Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist who reports frequently for the Post and other Kansas City area publications. You can reach her at roxieham@gmail.com.