Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents have arrested Barber County Undersheriff Virgil “Dusty” Brewer following an investigation into the Oct. 6, 2017, shooting death of 42-year-old Steven P. Myers of Sun City, Kan. 

Brewer, 60, was arrested without incident at the Barber County Courthouse, 120 E. Washington Ave., in Medicine Lodge. Brewer was then booked into the Barber County Jail for involuntary manslaughter connected to the fatal shooting.

After the initial shooting, the KBI indicated they would investigate the case further, but it took nearly a year for them to file charges in the case.  The availability of officer camera video may have played a large part in charges being filed. 

The KBI said in a press release issued the day of the incident that preliminary information indicated Myers did not comply with all verbal commands given by deputies before he was shot by a beanbag round, killing him. However, Attorney Michael Kuckelman, who represents the victim’s family, always contended the video showed a totally different stream of events. 

“No one would know exactly what happened that night if not for the video being seen,” said the victim’s widow  Kristina Myers.

Barber County sheriff’s deputies were responding to a call about a man threatening individuals with a gun outside a bar in Sun City, which is 110 miles (177 kilometers) west of Wichita. By the time they arrived, the man had left the area and deputies began looking for him. They found Myers in a shed. 

The video captures Barber County Sheriff Lonnie Small telling Undersheriff Virgil “Dusty” Brewer just minutes before Myers was shot that with “a little luck and he’ll just pass out and die,” Kuckelman said.

Once officers find him, it takes just eight seconds for Steven Myers to leave the shed once the sheriff orders him out, the attorney said. Myers then stands on the sidewalk — in plain sight and unarmed.

After Sheriff Small and his dog turn around and walk away from the scene, multiple deputies shout inconsistent instructions before Brewer shoots Myers with a beanbag round, Kuckelman said.

According to a court filing, the property owner who witnessed the shooting immediately shouted, “God damn, that was a little drastic wasn’t it!” Brewer then threatened the eyewitness with arrest for interference and ordered him to leave his own property.

A deputy on the scene tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Myers. The shotgun was later found in a house.

“We are disturbed that after they killed Steven Myers you can hear the sheriff telling the deputy to disable his body camera. We are troubled that the sheriff’s own body camera was disabled soon after the shooting,” Kuckelman said. “The reason they disabled their cameras is because they now understand the investigation is of one of their own.”

This summer, a federal judge dismissed Sheriff Small from a federal wrongful death lawsuit because he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger. The judge decided Undersheriff Brewer couldn’t be completely dismissed though because he had shot the less lethal gun.

Since then, the Myers’ family attorneys have filed a new wrongful death lawsuit in district court saying Small is still responsible.

The suit says Small and his employees have an obligation to use reasonable force, which the suit argues did not happen in this case. Body camera video released by the sheriff’s office shows Sheriff Small with a K-9 while he’s searching for Myers. The suit says if Small would have used the K-9 on Myers, it would have been a more reasonable amount of force, if any force was necessary at all.

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