Jury selection was underway Monday in the trial for a Kansas undersheriff accused of manslaughter for allegedly fatally shooting an unarmed suspect, allegedly using a homemade beanbag round fired from his personal shotgun, five years ago.
Virgil “Dusty” Brewer was working as a Barber County Sheriff’s Office undersheriff on Oct. 6, 2017, when he allegedly shot 42-year-old Steven Myers in the chest. At the time, Brewer and other deputies were responding to a report of someone making threats with a gun outside a Sun City, Kansas, bar.
Sun City is located approximately 110 miles from Wichita.
Myers, who was found to have been unarmed, then fled the area to a nearby shed, where Brewer and the others caught up with him. Brewer allegedly shot Myers in the chest after the man had exited the shed.
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Investigators later determined that Brewer was using his personal weapon and homemade beanbag round, The Associated Press reported.
The Barber County sheriff, who was present during the shooting but was not charged in Myers’ death, could be heard in body camera footage before the gunfire commenting: “A little luck and he’ll just pass out and die,” according to the report.
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The sheriff and Brewer later allegedly told the Kansas Bureau of Investigation that Myers did not appear to be armed when they spotted him near the shed, the AP reported.
Body camera footage further showed Brewer and the sheriff giving Myers conflicting orders in the seconds before Brewer allegedly fired the single, life-ending round.
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Brewer told investigators he thought his life was at risk and did not believe the beanbag round would wound Myers as severely as it did, the AP reports.
Investigators later found that deputies never told Myers he was under arrest, and Brewer fired his gun from lethally close distance.
Brewer was charged in September 2018 with involuntary manslaughter and has reportedly been on unpaid leave since.
According to the AP, Brewer’s trial is expected to center around his training, or lack thereof, in the use of less-lethal ammunition, and how that might have played a role in Myers’ death.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation Agent Brian Carroll argued that Brewer’s inexperience with the bean-bag munitions led to Myers’ death.
Barber County officials settled a civil lawsuit with Myer’s family in 2020 for $3.5 million.