The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 1, 2011

Jury convicts officer of manslaughter

CASSVILLE, Mo. — A jury convicted Southwest City police Officer Brian Massa of manslaughter Thursday in the shooting death of Bobby Stacy and recommended that he serve three years in prison.

Jurors deliberated a little more than two hours at the conclusion of a four-day trial before finding Massa, 35, guilty of first-degree involuntary manslaughter. They could have opted to convict the defendant of a lesser offense, but they agreed with prosecutors that Massa acted recklessly when he fired four shots into the fleeing 26-year-old Arkansas man’s vehicle on March 28, 2010.

Involuntary manslaughter in the first degree carries up to seven years in prison in Missouri. During the sentencing phase of the trial, jurors decided that Massa should serve three years for the crime. Circuit Judge Tim Perigo set a sentencing hearing for Jan. 6.

“We’re very pleased with the verdict,” said Larry Stacy, the victim’s father.

He expressed gratitude for the work of the jury and David Hansen, the assistant state attorney general who prosecuted the case.

“I think justice was served,” he said.

The family of Bobby Stacy attended each day of the trial in the company of an attorney and a private investigator from Tulsa, Okla. The attorney, Shannon McMurray, said she anticipates filing a wrongful-death lawsuit soon on behalf of the family.

Bobby Stacy suffered a single gunshot wound to the head and died at a Tulsa hospital the day after the shooting. The fatal shot from Massa’s .45-caliber handgun entered Stacy’s skull just above and behind the right ear, with fragments coming to rest in the brain near the front of the skull, according to the testimony of the forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy.

Evidence presented at the trial included videos retrieved from a dashboard camera in Massa’s patrol car and from a camera he was wearing on his uniform.

Massa maintained that Stacy tried to run him down with the Chevrolet Suburban he was driving after the vehicle spun into a ditch during a pursuit east of Southwest City. The Suburban did scrape the patrol car as Stacy was driving back out of the ditch.

But a Missouri State Highway Patrol investigator found that the four bullets fired at Stacy by Massa traveled from the back to the front of the Suburban as it was passing or had already passed the officer in the roadway.

Massa chose not to testify on his own behalf during the guilt-or-innocence phase of the trial, but he took the witness stand in the sentencing phase, asking jurors to consider the hardship incarceration would present his family as a father of three children.

Hansen used the opportunity to cross-examine Massa about a previous conviction for misuse of official information while he was working as a dispatcher in McDonald County in 2008. He had been fined $350 for the misdemeanor offense, which did not stop Southwest City from hiring him as a police officer.

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