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Headlines for Saturday, August 22, 2020

Kansas Offers Counties Drop-off Ballot Boxes

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Secretary of State’s office has offered each of the state’s 105 counties up to two ballot drop-off boxes for the November general election amid a pandemic that has upended how people cast their votes. It will not be until early next week before state officials have a final count of how many boxes it will need to purchased. Responses to the offer so far have been varied. Some counties have said they already have enough drop-off boxes and didn’t need any more, while others wanted one or two drop boxes. The state is using federal CARES Act funding to pay for them.

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Kansas City Police Officer Indicted on Felony Assault Charge

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A grand jury has indicted a Kansas City police sergeant on a felony assault charge after he allegedly kneed a 15-year-old on the back and head as the teenager repeatedly said “I can't breathe.” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Friday that Sgt. Matthew Neal faces a felony third-degree assault charge. An affidavit from the grand jury said in November 2019 the juvenile and another male with him were kneeling, handcuffed and cooperating when Neal put his knee on the back of the teenager's head and forced his face into the cement. No charges were filed against the juvenile.

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Judge Rejects Congressman Watkins' Request to Remove DA

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state court judge has rejected a freshman Kansas congressman’s request to remove the Topeka area’s prosecutor from a criminal election fraud case against the Republican lawmaker. Shawnee County District Judge David Debenham said in a ruling this week that attorneys for Representative Steve Watkins failed to show that District Attorney Mike Kagay had “an axe to grind” in filing three felony charges against Watkins.  Both Watkins and Kagay are Republicans, but Watkins argued that Kagay was colluding with Watkins’ main primary opponent because they shared a campaign consultant. Watkins lost his GOP primary race to State Treasurer Jake LaTurner.

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Kansas Human Rights Commission to Pursue LGBT Claims

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR)  The Kansas Human Rights Commission has announced they will begin considering discrimination claims from LGBTQ Kansans.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the move represents a major shift for the KHRC, which challenges alleged discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.  Ruth Glover, executive director of the KHRC, announced the policy change in an e-mail to state lawmakers yesterday (FRI).  The move follows the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton, and is seen as a significant step forward to LGBTQ Kansans.

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Wichita, Blue Valley Schools Moving Online

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two large Kansas school districts is moving classes online for middle and high-schoolers amidst the corovavirus pandemic. The Wichita school district, the state’s biggest with more than 50,000 students, will give the parents of elementary students the option of taking classes in person or online. And Blue Valley, with 22,000 students, announced Friday that elementary students can return to class in a hybrid model in which they will attend classes part of the week and learn from home the rest. But older students in both districts will begin the year with online instruction only.

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Kansas State Police Investigating after Trooper Shoots Man

MAYETTA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says it's investigating an officer-involved shooting of a man accused of wielding a knife in a confrontation with officers in northeastern Kansas. A KBI news release says the shooting happened Wednesday evening near Mayetta, after a Jackson County Sheriff’s deputy tried to stop a car and a chase ensued. The car crashed a short time later, and officials say the driver, 41-year-old Shanon Wren of Topeka, and a woman fled on foot. The Kansas Highway Patrol and deputies later found the pair after a search, and officials say a trooper shot Wren during the confrontation. Wren remained in critical condition Thursday at a Kansas City, Kansas, hospital.

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Man's Death Investigated as Suspicious in Southeast Kansas

EUREKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a man’s death in his southeast Kansas home as suspicious. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said Greenwood County deputies were called Wednesday night to do a welfare check at a home in Eureka. They found 78-year-old Danny Shue inside. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No information has been released about how he died.

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