UPDATE: Body camera video released; Sun City widow argues records violations

BARBER COUNTY, Kan. UPDATE (Friday): Steven Myers' widow, Kristina sat with her attorneys in court Friday mere feet from the Barber County Sheriff and Undersheriff and their attorneys.

Friday was supposed to be a hearing where a judge would determine if the Barber County Sheriff's Office violated open records laws in Kansas.

But because the sheriff's attorney decided to release body camera and dashboard camera video earlier in the week, the hearing shifted to being focused. It was focused solely on if there was any other video the sheriff's office didn't release.

The release of the video was months after Kristina Myers initial request. She said this release is a little late.

"I think it's a little late to have released them. Why did they wait this long? Put us through all of us and then release it right there at the end," she said.

There were six videos according to the sheriff's office. Three body camera videos and three dash camera videos represented two deputies and the sheriff who were on scene the day Myers' was shot. The undersheriff was also on scene but the sheriff's attorney didn't have any video for him.

"Did you have a body camera?" Myers' attorney asked Undersheriff Virgil "Dusty" Brewer as he testified. Brewer replied that he did. The attorney then asked where it was the day Brewer fired the beanbag round at Myers. Brewer responded that it was fixed to his sun visor on his patrol vehicle. When asked if he had a dash camera, he replied that he didn't and hadn't since he began his position at the sheriff's office.

The sheriff said the same thing about the undersheriff - that he didn't have a dash camera but he did have a body camera. He said the policy on when to turn a camera on and off is up to the officer's discretion.

Myers' attorney questioned him.

"Did you have body camera?" Myers' attorney asked. Sheriff Lonnie Small replied that he did. When the attorney asked Small about turning it off, Small replied that that he didn't turn it off until "after we were done."

The attorney asked the sheriff when he thought they were done and he replied when the less lethal weapon was deployed and he walked away. The attorney asked if he purposely turned it off after the shot and he said he did.

In the body camera video from Small, it shows him walking toward the front of the home when the shot is fired. He continues out the front of the home and tells the homeowner they shot a beanbag round which is less lethal. He then walks up to another officer near the road before turning his body camera off.

Sheriff Lonnie Small's attorney objected several times saying the hearing isn't about the "why". He said it's only about if there is video that hasn't been disclosed.

Both sides asked Small that question and he replied to each that every video has been turned over.

The judge didn't make any final ruling Friday. Myers' attorneys say they're happy the video has been released but are also frustrated it took this long and that the sheriff's office waited until days before trial.

Those attorneys say they plan to petition the sheriff's office to pay for Myers' court costs as they say it's tens of thousands of dollars to fight a case like this only for the sheriff's office to release the video at the last moment.

Eyewitness News obtained body camera video Thursday at the center of a lawsuit in the Barber County town of Sun City.

In October, Barber County's undersheriff shot Steven Myers with a beanbag round. The shot proved to be fatal.

Myers' widow asked for the body camera video to be released to the public. The request was refused. This is why she is now suing the Barber County Sheriff's Office.

FactFinder 12 obtained the body camera video through an open records request. That video, released by the Barber County Sheriff's attorney shows the moments at the center of the debate in Sun City.

Until this week, the Barber County sheriff was not making copies of the video for anyone, only allowing the attorneys for Steven Myers' widow to see it.

Attorneys argued the video should be released under the law, as well as because the sheriff says things they say he shouldn't have said.

The KBI told us deputies were searching for Myers after he was reported to be outside a bar, threatening people with a shotgun.

Deputies later found Myers at a friend's home in a shed. That's when Myers was shot with the beanbag round. Though a less lethal weapon was used, Myers died from the shot.

During the incident, Myers' widow's attorneys also say the sheriff turned off his body camera, which the video shows he did minutes after the shooting. The attorneys also say the sheriff told a deputy to turn off his body camera. The video shows that exchange, which happened after EMS arrived and paramedics were treating Myers.

Myers' widow argues by not releasing the video to the public, the Barber County sheriff violated open records law.

A judge will hear that case Friday.