Man's family wants action after fight with bounty hunters

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City leaders and clergy joined the family of a man who died after an altercation with bounty hunters in asking for sweeping changes in the laws that govern the bondsmen.

Ta'Mar J. Grant, 23, died late Thursday after he began arguing with the bounty hunters who came to his home to arrest his brother.

"We experienced the most horrifying moments life's cruelty can offer," the Rev. Saundra McFadden-Weaver said, reading from a statement on behalf of Grant's mother, Emily West.

"I want to help prevent this morbid story from happening to another son's mother, brother and family," McFadden-Weaver said.

Grant's family has planned to begin a petition drive to encourage government leaders to enact laws that place tighter restrictions on bounty hunters, said McFadden-Weaver, pastor of Community Fellowship Church of Jesus Christ. Police reports and witnesses said three bounty hunters went to the home to arrest Anthony L. West, 21, on four city warrants. As two bounty hunters handcuffed West, a disturbance broke out. Two women at the home told police the bounty hunters hit West and Grant on their heads with flashlights and that one put Grant in a choke hold.

Family members pleaded with the bounty hunters because, they said, Grant could not breathe. Emily West said she begged them to release Grant and allow her to dial 911. Police arrived and found West and Grant in handcuffs. West said Grant was unconscious.

His eyes were rolled back, and blood had poured out of his mouth. Anthony West had a cut on his head and was sitting in a chair.

Both men were taken to St. Joseph's Health Center, where Grant later died.

An autopsy was performed Friday, but the Jackson County medical examiner did not release the cause of death or make a ruling. If the examiner ruled the case a homicide, detectives said, they would send their case file to prosecutors for possible charges.

Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Brooks said he would ask state and federal lawmakers to re-evaluate policies regarding bondsmen.

"It is bad enough for us to be killed on the streets of Kansas City," Brooks said, "but we should be safe in our own homes."

Police said the bounty hunters, ages 27, 37 and 62, worked for Carol A. Sharp Bail Bonds in Kansas City. They were taken to police headquarters for questioning.

After someone is bonded out of jail by a bondsman, the bondsman is technically given custody. Although bondsmen or a bounty hunter working for a bondsman can forcibly enter a defendant's home to recapture that person, police said, they are not allowed to violate the state's assault laws.

A prayer vigil is scheduled for Monday night in front of the home where the altercation between Grant and bounty hunters occurred.

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