Bruno ribbons further divide KC firefighters, police officers - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Bruno ribbons further divide KC firefighters, police officers

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Red memorial ribbons tied around trees, fire hydrants and other locations have reopened wounds between some members of the Kansas City fire and police departments.

This stems from Officer Donald Hubbard, who was working off duty at a Kansas City downtown hotel, shooting and killing off-duty firefighter Anthony Bruno who had become embroiled in a fight with a cabbie who insulted Bruno's new wife in a fare dispute. Hubbard did not have a department-issued stun gun or baton on him. He also didn't have a department-issued radio, which the department requires for off-duty officers. The Pitch magazine in a recent report said Hubbard violated a number of department procedures.

Hubbard underwent facial reconstruction surgery for his injuries. A Jackson County grand jury cleared him of any wrongdoing by issuing him a no-true bill.

Some police officers say that members of Bruno's family are hanging the ribbons around where Hubbard lives as a form of harassment. The family say police officers who are in uniform are infringing on their free speech rights and being disrespectful by cutting down the ribbons hung along a section of downtown.

Stephanie Bruno had been married to Anthony Bruno just a few weeks when he was killed in the early morning hours of Dec. 1. She and other members of Anthony Bruno's family sought to remember him by putting the red ribbons out. Stephanie Bruno, who has filed a lawsuit against Hubbard, the hotel he was working for and its parent company, said she deliberately timed the ribbon campaign because of events unfolding in Ferguson.

Stephanie Bruno hopes that her family and others can bring change and accountability to the way police officers use lethal force.

"It's a peaceful attempt to get awareness out versus rioting," Stephanie Bruno said.

She and other Bruno family members deny that they targeted Hubbard's neighborhood. They said they hung the ribbons in neighborhoods where firefighters live, which is also the same neighborhoods where many police officers live.

Anthony Bruno's uncle shot video Sunday night of uniformed police officers removing ribbons that the family had hung earlier that day on utility poles and parking meters.

"Have you guys been ordered by your supervisors to do this?" the Bruno family member asked.

"Nope," the officer replied.

"So you are doing this on your own?"

"Yep."

KCTV5 contacted the Kansas City Police Department, which said it is reviewing the issue.

Daniel Thomas, an attorney for the Bruno family, criticized the officers' actions.

"I think the video demonstrates there is a disconnect between the officers and the public. The Bruno family was exercising their rights to free speech peacefully to commemorate the loss of their loved one," Thomas said in a statement. "Contrary to reports of hanging ribbons at officers' homes, the videos show on-duty officers neglecting their duty and acting as Gestapo enforcers."

The placement of the ribbons violated the city's sign ordinance, according to a city spokesman. The Bruno family did not obtain any permits.

"The temporary sign ordinance calls for a $20 fine per occurrence, but we do not intend to pursue any fines," according to an email from Chris Hernandez, a spokesman for the city. 

Some city employees and employees for the Downtown Council spent Monday removing ribbons in the public right of way.

"This was simply their assignment, and part of their normal workday to keep things cleaned up downtown," Hernandez said.

We will have more on this developing story on KCTV5 News at 10.

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