DA details investigation findings in shooting death of 9-year-old boy
The Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office Wednesday released its findings in the case of a Jan. 21 accidental shooting that killed 9-year-old Roy'Ale Spencer at a mobile home in southeast Wichita. Police say Spencer and an 11-year-old boy managed to get into a locked gun safe and were playing with a gun before Spencer was shot.
An 11-year-old boy accidentally shot Spencer, police say. Following the shooting and the report from police, Spencer's family wanted more answers regarding the boy's death and wanted to make sure there were no flaws in the investigation.
Wednesday, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett unveiled his findings concluding Spencer's death was accidental. Bennett addressed several inaccuracies that had been shared about the incident, not supported by facts.
The first is that Spencer was shot in the back.
"Photos taken by crime scene investigators at the scene and at the autopsy make it clear that Roy'Ale was not shot in the back. The Forensic Pathologist's diagnosis confirms the same," Bennett says. "He was shot from the front, a single time by the .40 shotgun which was loaded with "slug," not a bird-shot."
The second inaccuracy was the allegation that the .410 shotgun was wiped clean of fingerprints after the shooting.
"There is no indication that the weapon was "wiped," Bennett says. "In fact, visual examination of the metal components of the weapon after crime scene investigators attempted to retrieve fingerprints, show that several smeared ridge impressions were still present."
Third is that the 11-year-old who police say accidentally shot Spencer was found two hours later with his father.
"In fact, witnesses in the residence and at least one unrelated person in the neighborhood saw the 11-year-old leave on foot wearing only a pair of shorts in approximately 30-degree weather, leaving alone," Bennett says. "officers found him near the entrance of the same trailer park approximately 62 minutes after dispatch, alone."
The fourth inaccuracy is the suggestion that a 14-year-old girl in the home found the shotgun on Spencer's chest.
"Roy'Ale's brother told law enforcement officers that when he and the 14-year-old female entered the room, the gun was on the bed," Bennett says. "He remembers having a specific conversation with the 11-year-old shooter about the gun. The first firefighter on the scene confirmed the placement of the shotguns at the time of his arrival. This is where crime scene investigators found the shotgun."
Concluding his findings, Bennett says evidence backs the findings from police that Spencer and his 11-year-old friend (or both) got into the gun cabinet that morning (Jan. 21).
"It is unclear how the cabinet was unlocked, but it was capable of being locked," Bennett says. "It appears the boys retrieved the three long guns from the cabinet, two of which were BB rifles whole one was a single-shot .410 shotgun."
He says one or both of the boys appeared to have "checked" to see if the guns were loaded by shaking them."
"Loose BBs located on the surface of the bed offer objective confirmation that, when loose BBs were hared in the weapon, one of the boys emptied the BB gun onto the bed.
Bennett says evidence concludes the 11-year-old held the .410 shotgun and pulled the trigger. He says the single-shot struck Spencer in the face, causing fatal injuries to his face, mouth and neck.
"There is no indicate the 11-year-old knew the weapon was a shotgun, as opposed to a BB gun, or that the weapon was loaded," he says.
Further, the district attorney says Kansas has no "safe storage" law that would require specific security measures to be taken by gun owners to secure their firearms.
"While the locking mechanism for the gun safe in question may not have been functioning properly, there is no indication that the safe was either unlocked or incapable of being locked," Bennett says.