Cop Kills Unarmed Newlywed Firefighter at Point Blank Range

Yes, quite sadly, that is the fact of the matter. A police officer, working as an armed security guard off-duty, fired two shots into an unarmed firefighter who was celebrating his marriage, killing him. Shades of George Zimmerman, this sounds horrible, doesn't it? Of course it is lamentable, but although some news stations have done their best to make money and improve their ratings by running the video that shows most of the event, there will be no public outcry. There will be no trial by media, no statement from the President, no federal investigation, no accusations of “hate crime,” race crime, or references to the O.K. Corral. Some will say the usual, that this man, one Anthony Bruno, didn't have to die. Or, did he? There is much more to the story than “Cop Kills Unarmed Newlywed,” to be sure.


It recently happened (December 1, 2013) in the city where I was born: Kansas City, Missouri. Anthony Bruno, 26 years old, was a Kansas City firefighter having joined the fire department in 2008. Mr. Bruno and his new bride of November 16, the former Stephanie Steele, were out celebrating past 2:00 AM, ending up in a cab with Mr. Bruno's intoxicated cousin. Apparently, there was an argument with the 55 year old cab driver that started over a $6 cab fee. The cab driver apparently was frustrated with his inebriated passengers, finally throwing their money back at the couple, referring to Mrs. Bruno with a noun commonly used in the most derogatory of circumstances to refer to a woman's anatomy.

Mr. Bruno, who had been drinking, decided to attack the cab driver. “That’s when my husband got out of the taxi and began hitting the taxicab driver,” Stephanie Bruno told police.

Officer Donald Hubbard, who had been with the National Guard for 25 years and the KCPD for 17 years, was working in uniform off-the-clock as a security guard at the hotel, the Marriott Muehlebach Hotel. He approached the cab, but Anthony Bruno fled.

A block later, Donald Hubbard caught up with Anthony Bruno. Officer Hubbard asked for help in cuffing Mr. Bruno, but the numerous bystanders and cell-phone videographers did nothing. 911 was called, but even though this was downtown Kansas City, 911 response time was inadequate to defuse the situation.

While Donald Hubbard was attempting to detain and handcuff Mr. Bruno, Anthony Bruno got the better of the altercation and started pummeling Donald Bruno. That part is all captured by cell-phone video. Officer Bruno, fearing for his life, managed to get off two shots with his revolver, one of which penetrated Bruno's heart. Anthony Bruno was pronounced dead a short while later.

Unlike many events, this one was extremely well-documented. Detectives interviewed witnesses, studied two cellphone videos shot by bystanders and obtained surveillance videos from area businesses. They also took photos of a taxicab driver allegedly assaulted by Bruno moments before Hubbard’s attempted arrest of Bruno devolved into a fatal struggle.

While “cop kills unarmed man” might be the headline, the unarmed man was fleeing the scene of a crime, resisting arrest, and pummeling a uniformed officer. The autopsy of Anthony Bruno showed a .21 blood-alcohol content. Officer Hubbard was taken to a hospital as well. His injuries included a broken eye socket, a fractured cheekbone, a cut above his left eye that required two stitches and loss of feeling in the left side of his face. Reconstructive surgery was performed as well. On Feb. 14, a grand jury cleared Officer Don Hubbard in the fatal shooting death of Anthony Bruno.

There is nothing good about any of this. Although the headlines constantly refer to Mr. Bruno as firefighter, it is hard to see any relevance. No fires were being fought. To any onlooker, he was just another drunk or otherwise impaired individual with problems. Officers have a duty to act.

The same can be said for “Newlywed” in the headlines as well. Most folks a couple of weeks after getting married aren't punching cabdrivers, fleeing from cops, or resisting arrest . . . much less are on top of police officers, pummeling their skulls.

This is, as far as I'm concerned, a textbook case of when use of potentially lethal force is justified. It couldn't be more obvious. The officer could have just ignored the situation, but that would have been ignoring his duty. With no help from bystanders, he jeopardized his own well-being and was severely beaten in the process, until his was forced to try to end the matter. He already was risking subdural hematoma and associated traumatic brain injury, and the fight wasn't over yet.

It is never good when some is injured, much less killed. That your chances of being injured or killed greatly escalate when you attack someone is just as it should be.


Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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