Officer indicted in Missouri stun gun case

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A federal grand jury has indicted a former Independence police officer who fired his stun gun at a teen, causing the teen’s heart to stop. The sealed two-count indictment was approved by a federal magistrate at 2 p.m. Thursday. Tim Runnels, who left the Independence Police Department in November, is expected to be arraigned on Monday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to discuss the grand jury’s actions on Thursday.

The grand jury reviewed Runnnels’ actions when he pulled over then 17-year-old Bryce Masters in September. The grand jury reviewed whether Runnels’ actions were an appropriate use of force and whether he immediately provided aid after the teen collapsed.

Sources tell KCTV5 that the grand jury handed down a two-count indictment. The indictment will be unsealed when Runnels makes his first court appearance.

Dan Haus, an attorney representing Bryce Masters and his family, declined to make an extensive statement to KCTV5 because of the pending criminal proceedings.

“We want to respect the process and as a result we defer all questions on the indictments to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Haus said. “The Masters family would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI for their professionalism and vigilance in investigating this case.”

KCTV5 reached out via email and telephone to J.R. Hobbs, defense attorney for Runnels, once the indictment was issued but has been unable to reach him.

Masters’ heart stopped when the probes were fired into his chest. He was without oxygen for an extended period of time, and Runnels’ actions during the time before the first paramedics arrived were to be part of the grand jury review.

Runnels said he smelled marijuana coming from within the vehicle that Masters was in and that Masters repeatedly interfered with his investigation, forcing him to attempt to pull the teen from the vehicle.

An eyewitness recorded part of the encounter, and that video has been made public. Masters’ recorded his arrest and inadvertently recorded his collapse via his smart phone. That video along with the officer’s dash-cam video has not been made public.

KCTV5 was the only media outlet inside the federal courtroom when the grand jury forewoman handed the indictment to Magistrate Judge John T. Maughmer, who then sealed the documents.

Masters is the son of a Kansas City police officer who knew Runnels when he worked at KCPD from 2007 to 2010. Runnels worked for IPD for nearly three years.

By Chris Oberholtz, DeAnn Smith and Betsy Webster