Body cam captures heated exchange between Wichita mayor, police officer
In body camera footage obtained by 12 News, Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple seemingly attempts to exert his political influence to cut in line at a neighborhood event. His behavior caught the attention of a Wichita Police officer, who, Whipple complains, ‘doesn’t know who I am.’
In the footage, timestamped Sept. 24 just after 3 p.m., Whipple is attempting to dump trash at a Wichita neighborhood cleanup. A Wichita city leader and some WPD members told 12 News that Whipple attempted to “cut in line” at the cleanup, driving around other people who were waiting.
Eyewitnesses tell 12 News an officer tried to get Whipple to stop. That’s when the officer turned on his Axon body camera and approached Whipple.
“Frankly, I’m a little shocked after I saw the video,” Whipple said when reached by 12 News Thursday morning. “I was chopping it up as a bad interaction, a misunderstanding. Then when I saw the video, and particularly when he turned on the body camera and what followed afterward, I think, was just cause for concern as we move forward and take a deep dive into our policing policies.”
Whipple released the video first to The Wichita Eagle, and it was later obtained by 12 News.
“I have access to the video, it has me in it,” Whipple said. “My goal is to get that video out as quickly as possible for the sake of transparency.”
How it begins
The body camera footage starts as an officer, who later identifies himself as “Officer (Atlee) Vogt,” approaches Whipple. The mayor calls city manager Robert Layton and tells him, “I’m being screamed at by one of your cops,” asking, “Who’s the (police) chief now?”
“I’ve got a guy who doesn’t know who I am,” Whipple tells Layton. “He’s just screaming at me to turn around, incredibly rude. So I’m going to figure out how to report this.” Whipple asks how to file a complaint against an officer, while Vogt watches calmly and gives his officer identification. He tells Whipple, “I know who you are, Mr. Mayor,” though he later said he didn’t initially recognize Whipple.
“I wanted to pretty much tell (Vogt) I’m here to shake hands, pass out Mayor coins, thank the volunteers - can I do that right now?” Whipple said Thursday. “Instead of having that conversation, it escalated very fast. By the time he actually told me ‘You can no longer use this service,’ That’s when I called the city manager.”
After Layton asks the officer, over the phone, whether Whipple can pass, Vogt says he cannot. Whipple offers to go to the back of the line.
“I called you after this guy (Vogt) tells me I’m no longer welcome at the neighborhood cleanup, and that now he is going to be I guess the authority on who can do the neighborhood cleanup and drop things off,” Whipple says on the phone. “Which is definitely not what we do at City Hall. And that’s why you’re on the phone right now, Bob. That’s the complaint - not that I need to go to the back of the line, it’s that this guy tried to kick me out of what we appropriate for neighborhood cleanup based on his attitude and not any facts.”
As he’s walking away from Whipple’s vehicle, Vogt says all the dumpsters are full and that Whipple cannot unload his items.
“The video didn’t have the interactions of what happened,” Whipple said Thursday. “I was told by (former WPD Chief Gordon) Ramsay that anytime there’s an interaction with a police officer and a member of the public, the body camera is on. That was not the case. It’s very clear in that video -- from my understanding that’s the only video -- it’s missing a big chunk of that interaction.
“It’s sad because, again, we need to be focusing on community policing, we need to be focused on building relationships.”