The probable cause statement filed Tuesday morning by the Missouri State Highway Patrol against Kenneth Lee Simpson reveals the brief, but deadly, encounter he had with Hermann police Det. Sgt. Mason …
The probable cause statement filed Tuesday morning by the Missouri State Highway Patrol against Kenneth Lee Simpson reveals the brief, but deadly, encounter he had with Hermann police Det. Sgt. Mason Griffith and the serious wounding of Hermann patrolman Adam Sullentrup.
Griffith and Sullentrup encountered the wanted felon at 9:09 p.m. Sunday inside the Casey’s General Store along Highway 19 on the south end of Hermann. Simpson, according to the MSHP report, had six active felony warrants out for his arrest from Warren County. He was reportedly acting “irate.”
Griffith and Sullentrup contacted Simpson near the back of the store, calling him “Kenny,” according to the report by Trooper Austin B. Kings from the Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control, which was filed as the application for felony charges.
Simpson appeared to ignore Griffith, at first, who then asked him for identification. Griffith explain why they wanted identification and Simpson claimed he did not have one with him. Simpson proceeded to argue with police, claiming his name was “Justin” and after several minutes said his name was “Kevin.”
The report noted Simpson became “agitated” as police explained who they believed he was. He became defensive and started pacing, according to the PC statement.
Griffith asked Simpson if his identity would be confirmed if the Highway Patrol came and conducted a fingerprint scan. Simpson said he would be identified as “Kevin.”
Sullentrup went outside to his squad car and returned with a cell phone containing a photograph of Simpson. Sullentrup held the phone to Simpson’s face. Simpson took off his hat and again denied his identity.
“Sgt. Griffith, took out his handcuffs and told Simpson he was being placed under arrest,” the report states. “Simpson started backing away from the officers, as they approached to make the arrest. Simpson turned away from the officers, and with his right hand pulled a pistol from is right side. Simpson immediately pointed the weapon at the officers, and began shooting. Officer Sullentrup and Sgt. Griffith were both struck by gunfire.”
Kings’ statement noted, based on video footage of the incident, that neither Griffith nor Sullentrup had their weapons out as they encountered Simpson.
As Simpson continued moving around the store, shooting at the wounded police, Griffith returned fire, according to Kings’ report. Simpson went out the front door and fled the scene north about a block to the residence where he was captured Monday afternoon.
Kings conducted an in-person interview with Simpson at the Crawford County Jail in Steelville on Monday evening.
He told the investigator he was on the run from police for active warrants and realized they were there to arrest him. Simpson told the investigator he “believed he was going to die, as he planned to commit ‘suicide by cop.’”
Kings’ report concludes, “When the officers attempted to arrest him, Simpson stated he tried to give them the chance to shoot him, and his reactions turned into a fight or flight situation.”
The report notes “Simpson admitted the pistol he used was a Smith and Wesson model M&P .40 caliber. Simpson stated he did not intend to kill anyone except himself.”
Griffith was pronounced dead at 10:55 p.m. Sunday at Hermann Area District Hospital. Sullentrup was reportedly in critical but stable condition Monday at an undisclosed St. Louis-area hospital where he was flown Sunday.
Lawmen at the scene of Simpson’s arrest reportedly handcuffed the first-degree murder suspect with Griffith’s handcuffs. He was being held without bond and was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday morning in Hermann.