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Family thinks fatal shooting was hate crime; police disagree

July 12, 2021 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Family members and police are at odds over the shooting death of a Black gay man in Kansas City, Missouri, with family members saying they think he was shot because he was gay and police saying there’s no evidence to support that.

De’Angelo Wallace, 28, was killed downtown early on July 5. A suspect was arrested the same day and was later released.

Wallace’s family members held a news conference last week to draw attention to the case and said Wallace had been targeted and threatened in recent weeks because of his sexuality. Police suggest the shooting stemmed from an argument.

“There is absolutely no indication whatsoever this was related to a hate crime,” Sgt. Jake Becchina, a police spokesman, wrote in an email in response to questions from The Kansas City Star.

Justice Horn, vice chair of the city government’s LGBTQ Commission, appeared with the family at the news conference, describing what he called a track record of Black LGBTQ people in the city being targeted, threatened or killed.

Horn said he had no trust in the Kansas City Police Department when it comes to determining whether Wallace’s death was motivated by hate.

“They do not have a good record when it comes to interacting with like LGBT individuals, so I frankly don’t want to hear from them,” Horn said.