LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A white Kansas City police officer who sprayed a 15-year-old Black girl with chemicals during racial injustice protests last summer was indicted Friday on misdemeanor assault, prosecutors said.
Officer Nicholas McQuillen, 38, will be issued a summons to appear later in court, Jackson County prosecutors said after the county’s grand jury delivered the indictment.
According to charging documents, the girl was with her father, siblings and friends on May 30 at protests along the Country Club Plaza that were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. Protesters were on sidewalks while police lined the streets.
Police said the girl’s father, who’s Black, was repeatedly told to stay on the sidewalk or he would be arrested, but the man later said he did not hear those commands.
Videos show the father standing on the street, within 1 or 2 feet of the sidewalk, shouting at officers. The girl was next to him, according to court documents.
Video shows McQuillen and another officer moving toward the man and girl, but they do not make any statement to them or tell them they are under arrest, according to court documents. At this point, the man is back on the sidewalk, and there is “no evidence of information about the need to immediately arrest (the man),” the documents said, and no evidence that McQuillen contacted a supervisor or officers other than the one who was with him.
The videos also show McQuillen and the other officer trying to pull the man into the street while his family and friends try to keep him on the sidewalk. The movement caused the girl to be between McQuillen and the man, which led to her hands touching McQuillen’s vest.
At that point, McQuillen raised the MK-90 fogger, a chemical spray used to control crowds, and sprayed the girl in the face, according to the court documents. She told investigators she suffered pain in her eyes and a burning sensation on her arms but did not seek medical attention.
It was not immediately clear if McQuillen has an attorney.
The Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement that it was disappointed the prosecuting attorney would charge McQuillen when he “employed the lowest level of force available to him,” The Kansas City Star reported.
“We believe this charge has no merit and the FOP will fully support Officer McQuillen as he challenges it in Court,” the statement said.
Attorney Tom Porto, who is representing the victim, said in a statement called the officer’s conduct “absolutely indefensible.”
“A 15-year-old girl had the equivalent of bear spray sprayed in her face from centimeters away,” Porto said. “The grand jury got it right.”
Kansas City police spokeswoman Officer Donna Drake said McQuillen has been with the department since 2014 and is assigned to the Patrol Bureau.