Who Is Leonna Hale? Police Shooting of Missouri Woman Sparks Controversy

Leonna Hale, a 26-year-old Black woman shot by Kansas City police on May 27 in a case that drew national attention, was released from a Jackson County jail after posting bail on June 3.

The shooting sparked controversy after a witness told the Kansas City Star that Hale told officers she was pregnant, had her hands up and posed no threat before being shot multiple times in the parking lot of a Family Dollar store.

Body camera footage didn't match up with the witness account, as Hale exhibited a firearm and resisted arrest, the local paper later reported.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) said the shooting occurred as officers with the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) attempted to arrest the occupants of a car in connection with a reported armed carjacking.

The officers had spotted a vehicle matching the description of a stolen vehicle at the Family Dollar at Prospect and East 6th Avenues, the MSHP said on Twitter.

Kansas City police shooting of Black woman
Leonna Hale, 26, was reportedly shot multiple times by police in Kansas City, Missouri in connection with a suspected carjacking. Pictured, a screenshot of a video from the scene. Shé Danja via Storyful

As officers attempted to make contact with the vehicle's occupants, a man exited the vehicle, fled on foot and was apprehended, the MSHP said. He was not identified.

The highway patrol said Hale exited the vehicle and fled into the store's parking lot. "Two officers fired shots," the MSHP added. "A suspect handgun was recovered from the scene. Hale was seriously injured & her condition is stable. No other injuries."

The witness, who had gone to the store with her three children, described a scene where officers opened fire on a woman who allegedly posed no threat. She told The Star that when she arrived at the store she heard officers yelling "get out [of] the car" to two people in a vehicle next to hers.

A man got out, jumped a fence and fled, she said, and three officers ran after him. Hale got out of the vehicle with her hands up, the witness continued, and when officers told her to get on the ground, she told them she was pregnant and told officers there was a gun in the vehicle.

"She did not pull out a weapon on them," the witness said. "She did not even have a stick in her hand."

According to the witness, Hale had taken three steps to run away from the officers when they fired five times. "I remember it because it didn't stop. They shot five times," the witness said. Newsweek has reached out to her for further comment.

In a video she captured following the shooting, Hale is seen lying on the ground with blood on her shirt as other officers arrive on the scene and one appears to handcuff her.

The witness account of the shooting prompted widespread outrage on social media.

The MSHP said it had been asked by KCPD to investigate the shooting involving the department's officers.

KCPD's interim police chief, Joseph Mabin, said the department would be "100 percent transparent," KCTV5 reported.

The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, a KCPD spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek.

Newsweek has reached out to MSHP for further comment.

Update 5/31/22, 10:17 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with a comment from a KCPD spokesperson.

Correction 6/4/22, 1:45 p.m. ET: This article and its headline have been corrected to reflect that Hale was later reported to be armed and not pregnant, contrary to the witness account initially reported in local media