A 29-year-old sheriff's deputy in Jackson County, Mo., has been charged with felony assault and criminal action, and an investigation has been launched regarding a 2017 incident for which she'd received a medal of valor. "Laws that protect law enforcement's actions are a high hurdle for prosecutors to overcome. We believe, however, this case will meet that high bar," says Jean Peters Baker, the county prosecutor, in a statement, and KSHB and the Washington Post explain why. Per court documents, Lauren Michael is accused of shooting a woman in the back and buttocks on Aug. 8 in Kansas City after another deputy stopped a male and female on a e-scooter from going the wrong way down a street by setting his squad car in front of them; when the scooter crashed into the vehicle, the male was arrested, but the female fled. Michael reportedly encountered her blocks away.
That's when, per the court records, 25-year-old Brittany Simek was tased during a scuffle with Michael, then shot in the back as she tried to run away; Michael claims Simek had grabbed her stun gun and tased her as well. But another case from 2017 involving Michael has what the Post calls "strikingly similar" circumstances, raising prosecutors' suspicions. In that incident, which proved fatal, Michael shot a civilian at an area Walmart during an alleged shoplifting incident. Michael, who was working security at the store, said at the time that 31-year-old Donald Sneed III had tased her while they struggled—and so she fired her gun and killed him. Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forte says in a statement Michael has been placed on leave without pay while a probe into both cases continues, per KSHB. (Read more police shooting stories.)