A second employee of a Kansas City, Kansas, auto parts store has been charged in the same incident in which the store’s manager was accused of murder for the killing of a 23-year-old man suspected of shoplifting, authorities announced Wednesday.
The Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office has charged 23-year-old Royal Ford with one count of misdemeanor battery for allegedly stomping on the neck of a suspected accomplice, according to court documents. A summons has been issued for Ford to make his first court appearance on Oct. 17.
The district attorney also has charged the suspected accomplice, 23-year-old Keysean Perkins, with misdemeanor theft and misdemeanor interference with a law enforcement officer. Perkins has been summoned to make his first appearance in court also on Oct. 17.
The charges center around an alleged shoplifting incident on Sept. 19, in which employees of the the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store at 4700 Parallell Parkway got into a physical confrontation with two men they suspected of stealing.
Diamond Steen, one of the men who was accused of shoplifting, was killed in the confrontation.
Carl R. Kemppainen, 39, the store’s manager, is facing one count of second-degree murder in Wyandotte County District Court. Prosecutors allege he acted recklessly, though unintentionally, in killing Steen.
In a statement last week, the company said it was “deeply disturbed by the events, death and injuries that occurred at our store in Kansas City, Kansas. We are cooperating fully with the police investigation.”
The company wasn’t immediately available to comment Wednesday on their policy regarding employee response to shoplifting.
Two cans of car paint, sandpaper
Steen and Perkins had allegedly stolen two cans of car paint and sandpaper worth $72.99 from the store, according newly available court documents.
According to the documents, video captured Perkins entering the store and walk down one of the aisles.
Kemppainen told detectives he was nearby and approached Perkins, who was looking at cans of car paint, and asked if he needed any help. Perkins told Kemppainen he was fine, according to court documents.
Shortly thereafter, Steen is captured on video entering the store and going down the aisle towards Perkins and Kemppainen.
Kemppainen told detectives he had received information that two unknown men in a white Ford Fusion had stolen items at another O’Reilly location a few days earlier. He allegedly told the detectives he believed the two men were the suspected shoplifters.
Kemppainen told detectives he was watching Perkins for any possible shoplifting, but had to leave the area to help another employee, according to court documents. As he left, Kemppainen said he allegedly saw Perkins put a can of car paint in his pocket and grab a package of sandpaper.
The video allegedly showed Steen and Perkins walk out of the aisle and head to the front door, bypassing the registers and front counter, according to court documents.
Kemppainen ran in front of them and attempted to stop them inside the front door, however Steen and Perkins make it outside, according to the video. Kemppainen followed them into the parking lot and tried to prevent them from leaving.
A witness said Kemppainen kept shutting the driver’s side door of the car Steen was attempting to enter. He then yanked a key fob from a lanyard hanging around Steens neck and threw it across the parking lot, according to court documents.
Kemppainen then allegedly placed Steen in a chokehold, according to court documents. About that time, the video captured Ford exiting the business and confronting Perkins on the passenger side of the car.
The video showed Perkins “attempting to calm the situation by taking a stolen paint can out of his front hoody pocket,” according to court documents. He then allegedly dropped the can and approached Kemppainen to get him to release Steen.
Ford allegedly pulled Perkins away and began to wrestle with him in an attempt to detain him, according to court documents. As they struggled, a third employee grabbed tape to bind Perkins.
The video showed Perkins lying face down on the ground as the employee wrapped tape around his wrists. When Perkins attempted to raise his head, Ford allegedly stomped down on Perkin’s neck and upper back area, causing his face and chin to hit the ground, according to court documents.
Perkins suffered a small laceration on his chin. When treated at the hospital, he received three stitches.
When officers responded to the store, they found Steen and Perkins bound in tape, bungie cords and zip ties by the front door. Steen was not responsive.
When officers checked on him, they found he did not have a pulse and he was not breathing. They asked an O’Reilly employee to cut the bindings that held his arms behind him. Officers requested emergency medical crews and began CPR.
When emergency medical crews arrived, they declared Steen deceased.
At a press conference earlier this month, District Attorney Mark Dupree said an autopsy confirmed Steen died of strangulation. He declined to provide further detail on the manner of the homicide other than to say Steen’s “airway was completely stopped.”
Online court records did not list defense attorneys for Ford or Perkins as of Wednesday.
The Star’s Bill Lukitsch provided some information for this story.