Kansas City firefighter found not guilty of spitting on black child, using racial slur

A Kansas City firefighter accused of spitting on a 3-year-old boy, threatening the boy’s grandfather and calling the child a racial slur was found not guilty on all charges related to the incident on Wednesday. 

District court Judge Cynthia Cornwell found Terrence “Jeremy” Skeen, 42, not guilty of battery, assault and disorderly conduct after more than five hours of testimony, The Kansas City Star reported. Cornwell found the witnesses’ statements contradictory. 

Surveillance video footage did not capture the key moments in the confrontation, according to the paper. 

The incident occurred Feb. 26 at a Hooters restaurant in Overland Park, Kan., where an African-American family was celebrating a birthday. A patron told Raymond Harris that he witnessed Skeen spit on Harris’ grandson when the boy wandered away from the group. 

Harris testified Wednesday that when he confronted Skeen, the off-duty firefighter called his grandson a derogatory term and threatened to shoot him, the Star reported. 

Two Hooters customers who said they didn’t know Harris backed up portions of his story. One said he heard Skeen use a racial slur and make a spitting motion; the other said he heard Skeen threaten Harris. 

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Skeen took the stand and said he told Harris he carried a gun. But Skeen said he wasn’t carrying a firearm that day and he denied using a racial slur. 

“There was more than one liar in the restaurant,” Skeen said. He also testified that Harris’ grandson behaved like he had not been “taught manners,” the Star reported. 

Skeen testified that he is openly gay and said, “I have no tolerance for discrimination,” KCUR reported

Skeen has continued to work for the Kansas City Fire Department as the case was adjudicated. The city told the Star that he has worked for the fire department since 2002. 

Reginald Stockman, an attorney for the boy’s family, told KCTV that the family is “devastated by the outcome of the trial.”

Stockman said the family learned “racism is still prevalent and it’s alive and well in our community and in our society” and that “you can be a victim of racism in this country not receive justice.”

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