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Headlines for Tuesday, November 23, 2021

 

Kansas Financially Protecting Workers Who Refuse COVID Shots

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has brushed aside complaints from fellow Democrats about signing a Republican measure aimed at financially protecting workers who refuse to get COVID-19 vaccines. She declared Tuesday that, in her words, “leadership means seeking compromise.” Kelly acted with unusual speed and signed the bill the afternoon after its passage by the GOP-controlled Legislature just before midnight Monday during a one-day special session. Kansas is making it easy for workers to claim religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine requirements and promising unemployment benefits to people who are fired after refusing the shots. The votes Monday night were 24-11 in the Senate and 77-34 in the House.

(Additional reporting...)

Kansas GOP Lawmakers OK Helping Workers Defy Federal COVID-19 Mandates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Kansas have approved a measure that would make it easy for workers to claim religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The bill approved Monday night also would provide unemployment benefits to people who are fired for refusing the shots. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly said she would sign the bill but most Democratic lawmakers opposed it. They said it was a symbolic measure that won't provide any real protections for workers who refuse to get vaccinated in the face of federal mandates imposed by President Joe Biden. However, Republicans called it a victory for personal liberty. The votes were 24-11 in the Senate and 77-34 in the House. (Read more.)

Kansas Special Session Wraps-Up, State Will Help Workers Resist Biden's COVID Vaccine Mandates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will soon make it easy for workers to claim religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine requirements and promise unemployment benefits to people who are fired after refusing the shots. Kansas expects to join other states in resisting federal mandates from President Joe Biden after the GOP-controlled Legislature passed a measure Monday night. Governor Laura Kelly angered some fellow Democrats in the Legislature by promising to sign the GOP's measure. Meanwhile, Republicans frustrated the Kansas Chamber of Commerce by embracing proposals that it opposed. Supporters called it a victory for personal liberty. The votes were 24-11 in the Senate and 77-34 in the House during a one-day special legislative session. (Read more.)

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Kansas to Phase Out Some Free COVID-19 Testing Next Year

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas will start next year to require employers, individuals and health insurance companies to pay some costs associated with COVID-19 testing. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has announced it will start phasing out free screening tests for people who aren't showing COVID-19 symptoms or haven't potentially been exposed. The agency said it expects the policy to begin in March 2022. The department said it can't sustain having public health agencies cover the cost of all testing indefinitely. The agency said it initially allocated $141 million in federal funds on testing and lab processing capacity but infections from the delta variant depleted the funds faster than expected.

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Embattled Kansas City Police Chief Says He'll Retire in 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The embattled Kansas City police chief has announced that he is retiring just four days after a white officer on the force was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting of a Black man. Chief Rick Smith, who has faced repeated calls to resign, will retire in 2022. Captain Leslie Foreman, a spokeswoman for the department, made the announcement in a statement Tuesday. She said Smith made a commitment to stay in the position no more than five years when he was hired in August 2017. The announcement followed a City Hall meeting earlier in the day with Smith, Mayor Quinton Lucas and the Board of Police Commissioners’ president, Mark Tolbert. The mayor’s office provided no details about the meeting.

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Suspect in 6 Killings in Kansas and Missouri Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charge

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man accused of killing four people in the St. Louis area and two in a Kansas suburb of Kansas City has pleaded not guilty to a federal gun charge. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 26-year-old Perez Deshay Reed entered the plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. He remains jailed without bond. The federal charge accuses Reed of transporting a gun across state lines with the intent to commit a felony. Reed is accused of fatally shooting two people in St. Louis city, two in St. Louis County and two in Kansas City, Kansas. The shootings prompted the FBI to refer to him as an alleged serial killer.

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Kansas Widow Frustrated by Lack of Progress in Hit-and-Run Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas widow says she's still waiting for answers, more than 40 days after her husband was fatally struck in a hit-and-run accident outside of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Steven Hickle of Wichita left the stadium early on October 10. He was struck by two hit-and-run drivers while trying to cross Blue Ridge Cutoff. Laurie Hickle told the Kansas City Star that her last conversation with Kansas City police was several weeks ago when they told her they found one of the vehicles involved. She says she is frustrated that the drivers who may have been responsible for her husband's death have failed to step forward or cooperated with police.

(-Related-)

Omaha Man Critically Injured After Being Struck Near Chiefs Game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 49-year-old man from Omaha, Nebraska, is hospitalized in critical condition after being struck while crossing a road on the Truman Sports Complex property in Kansas City, Missouri, during a Chiefs game. Police say the man was struck by a Chrysler Sedan Sunday afternoon, about 25 minutes after the start of the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs. The driver stopped at the scene. Last month, 66-year-old Steven Hickle of Wichita, Kansas, was killed when he was struck by two hit-and-run drivers near Arrowhead Stadium. His death prompted a bicycle and pedestrian safety advocacy group to renew calls to make the area safer.

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Ex-Officer Who Sued Sheriff's Deputy Killed by Police

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say a former police detective, who last year sued a sheriff’s deputy for running over him in a rural field, has been fatally shot by a police officer after disarming one officer and pointing a gun at another. Kansas City Police Chief Karl Oakman says Lionel Womack was killed during the encounter Monday after police received 911 calls about a man standing in a road pointing at the sky and trying to jump in front of traffic. Oakman said Tuesday that the officers had no choice and that the whole incident took place in 26 seconds.

(–Earlier version–)

Man Killed, 2 Kansas Police Officers Injured in Altercation

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man was killed and two Kansas City, Kansas, police officers were injured in an altercation. Police spokeswoman Nancy Chartrand said police responded Monday afternoon to the city’s Coronado neighborhood after receiving a report that someone was standing in a road looking at the sky and jumping in front of traffic. She said an altercation ensued and a gun was discharged. She said it wasn’t immediately clear who fired the weapon or whether it went off intentionally or accidentally. She said the man who had been the focus of the call died at a hospital. She said two officers also were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. No other details were immediately released, including the name of the man who died.

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Missouri Man Exonerated in 3 Killings, Free After 4 Decades

UNDATED (AP) — A Kansas City man who was jailed for more than 40 years for three murders has been released from prison after a judge ruled he was wrongfully convicted in 1979. Sixty-two-year-old Kevin Strickland said Tuesday that he would like to get involved in efforts to “keep this from happening to someone else.” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and other legal and political leaders worked to free Strickland because they said evidence used to convict him had been recanted or disproven since his conviction. Attorney General Eric Schmitt fought his release, saying he believes Strickland is guilty. Strickland was convicted in the April 25, 1978, deaths of 21-year-old Larry Ingram, 20-year-old John Walker and 22-year-old Sherrie Black.

(–Related–)

Judge Exonerates Kansas City Man Convicted in 3 Killings

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri judge has ruled that a Kansas City man was wrongfully convicted for three murders and will be released after more than 40 years behind bars. Sixty-two-year-old Kevin Strickland was exonerated on Tuesday. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and other legal and political leaders worked to free Strickland because they said evidence used to convict him had been recanted or disproven since his conviction in 1979. Attorney General Eric Schmitt fought his release, saying he believes Strickland is guilty. Strickland was convicted in the April 25, 1978, deaths of 21-year-old Larry Ingram, 20-year-old John Walker and 22-year-old Sherrie Black. He has always denied any involvement in the murders.

The Missouri Law That Led to Strickland Decision

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A judge’s decision to release longtime inmate Kevin Strickland, of Kansas City, was made possible by a new Missouri law intended to free people who were imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit. The law gives local prosecutors the authority to seek hearings asking a judge to free a prisoner if new evidence shows the inmate was wrongfully convicted. The legislation was spurred by the case of a St. Louis man, Lamar Johnson, who has been in prison for 26 years for murder. Lawmakers who crafted the provision in a larger crime bill said prosecutors needed a legal mechanism to present new evidence and free wrongfully convicted prisoners. Judge James Welsh ruled Tuesday that Strickland had been wrongfully convicted.

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Missouri Police Chiefs Want Changes to New Gun Law

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri police chiefs say a new law banning local police from enforcing federal gun laws is making it harder to fight crime. The Kansas City Star reports the Missouri Police Chiefs Association wrote a letter to Republican state lawmakers about the law. Police chiefs say the law is confusing and has unintended consequences. They want lawmakers to make clear which federal gun crimes local police can help with, along with other changes. Police departments risk getting sued and fined as much as $50,000 if officers break the law.

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Mercer Bailey, Who Spent 47 Years with AP, Dies of Complications from COVID-19

BELTON, Mo. (AP) — Mercer Bailey, whose 47-year career with The Associated Press began with the use of Morse Code and concluded in the early days of the internet, has died of complications from COVID-19. Bailey’s family said he died Saturday at a hospital in Belton, Missouri. He was 94. Bailey was 17 when he joined the AP’s Atlanta bureau in May 1943. His wide-ranging career included a 20-year stint as assistant bureau chief in Kansas City, Missouri, a position he held until his retirement in 1990. In 1981 he got out of a hospital bed to help cover the Hyatt Regency Hotel skywalk collapse that killed 114 people.

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Topeka Police Investigate Fatal Weekend Shooting

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man is dead after a weekend shooting in Topeka. Police Lt. Kelvin Johnson said the shooting was reported shortly after 12 am Saturday. The victim was identified as 31-year-old Adrian Williams of Olathe. Johnson said when officers arrived they found a large group of people and the wounded man. Paramedics responded, but Williams didn't survive.

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Two People Injured in Shooting Between Two Vehicles in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two people were injured in a shooting that Wichita police said may have been motivated by road rage. Wichita police Lt. Roderick Miller said the shooting between two vehicles happened Saturday afternoon in north Wichita. Both vehicles were driving south on Woodlawn when the shooting happened. When officers arrived, they found two people wounded inside a Ford Fusion that had veered off the road and crashed into a fence surrounding a home. A 25-year-old woman in the car had been shot several times, and a 30-year-old man had been shot once. The woman was taken to a hospital in serious condition while the man refused to be transported.

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Olathe Police Identify Man and Woman Killed in Shooting

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Police have released the names of the man and woman who were found shot to death in a car in Olathe.  The two victims were both from Tonganoxie, a small town about 25 miles west of Kansas City. Olathe police identified them Sunday as 45-year-old Angela Santiago and 42-year-old Jose Arellano-Rascon. Police say officers found the man and woman inside a vehicle with gunshot wounds early Saturday. Police are looking for four or five males who were in a dark gray Ford F-150 pickup truck and are suspected of being involved.

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Two Men Die in Rollover Crash in Northwest Kansas

NORTON COUNTY, Kan. (AP) — Two men died after the Ford Mustang they were riding in veered into a ditch in northwest Kansas and rolled several times. The Kansas Highway Patrol said the crash happened shortly after midnight Sunday while the car was speeding along state Highway 383 in Norton County. The crash report says 37-year-old Michael Dela Vega, of Norton, lost control of the car before it hit a highway guardrail, went into the ditch and rolled into a field before landing on its roof. The passenger in the car was 44-year-old Andrew Campbell of Colby. Both men died in the crash. Norton County is near the Nebraska border in northwest Kansas.

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No Injuries in Kansas City-Area Bank Robbery

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — No one is hurt after a man robbed a suburban Kansas City bank. FBI spokesman Dixon Land says the suspect demanded cash from a Commerce Bank in Gladstone, Missouri on Saturday. He fled with an undisclosed amount of money. The FBI and Gladstone police are investigating. The FBI describes the suspect as a roughly 50-year-old man with light brown skin. He wore jeans, a dark blue coat, red Kansas City baseball hat, black shoes, blue latex gloves and a COVID-19 mask while robbing the bank.

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Woman Runs over Husband Twice as He Tried to Dislodge Bowling Ball Beneath Car

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man was critically hurt when his wife drove over him twice as he tried to dislodge a bowling ball that had been thrown in front of their car on Saturday afternoon. After they stopped, the 25-year-old man crawled under the vehicle to try to remove the ball. A Kansas City police spokeswoman said that's when a suspect approached and tried to grab the 25-year-old woman’s purse. During a struggle over the purse, the woman pressed her foot on the gas pedal and the car rolled over her husband. The woman then put the car in reverse and rolled over her husband a second time. Then the suspect fled.

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Missouri School Returning LGBTQ Books to Library Shelves

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri school district is returning two LGBTQ-themed books it had pulled from libraries. The North Kansas City School District says the books will be back on high school shelves Monday. The reversal follows backlash from students and a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri urging the district to return the books. The district had pulled the books from high schools following parent concerns. The district is now reviewing its policies on book selection and removal.

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Former KU Star Paul Pierce Part of 7-Member Class Inducted into College Hoops Hall of Fame

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Paul Pierce of Kansas and Antawn Jamison of North Carolina led a seven-man class inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. The class also includes Bradley’s Hersey Hawkins and the late Len Bias of Maryland along with David Greenwood of UCLA and longtime coaches Tom Penders and Rick Byrd. The class was honored this weekend in Kansas City.

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Gonzaga, UCLA Snag Top AP Poll Spots; KU in at Number 4 

UNDATED (AP) – Gonzaga and UCLA continue their hold on the top two spots in The Associated Press Top 25 college basketball poll, setting the stage for their highly anticipated showdown this week. Purdue also received a first-place vote to leap past Kansas into third, with the Jayhawks and Duke rounding out the first five. Purdue and Baylor moved up three spots within the top 10, and Alabama moved up four spots to forge a tie with SEC rival Kentucky. The biggest drop came with Michigan, which was fourth before a pair of losses sent coach Juwan Howard’s crew tumbling all the way to No. 20. Arizona, Seton Hall, BYU and Xavier entered the poll this week.

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These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!  

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