WICHITA — “No one’s happy about the situation at all. But it’s an opportunity to do the right thing,” said Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple.

Just one day after Wichita leaders announced an investigation into the police department regarding alleged inappropriate and racist messages being shared by officers, Mayor Whipple said he’s already warning of the repercussions.

“In these types of situations, it’s going to lead to these cases getting tossed out so that other cases can actually take precedence over them, which means we will potentially have people who committed crimes going out scot free,” said Whipple.

It’s actually a law under “Brady-Giglio”, which means when law enforcement officers are called as witnesses, a prosecutor must disclose any evidence that could impact the accuracy of their testimony.

“They have a history of the deviant behavior behind the association they have with each other in the attitude that they have. And that’s something that we should not tolerate,” said Larry Burks Sr., the President NAACP-Wichita.

The district attorney’s office has already pulled all of the records involving the sheriff’s office employees who Sheriff Jeff Easter said were sharing similar and offensive texts.

The DA dismissed about 50 pending traffic tickets, 10 pending and nonviolent criminal cases, and reviewed 120 criminal cases that had already been resolved by the three deputies who were involved.

“I really appreciate the DA going and doing what he has already done with the cases that those officers have been involved with. And those are being looked at right now. I understand that some of those cases have been dismissed. I’m sure a whole lot more that needs to take place,” said Burks Sr.

“Motive, interest, bias, dishonesty is always relevant to credibility,” said Dan Monnat, a local defense attorney.

Monnat said prosecutors can’t withhold evidence that would favor someone accused of a crime.

“Isn’t the jury entitled to know that the so-called objective, forthright testimony they heard from the law enforcement officer on the witness stand is in fact, shaded and undermined by the subjective racism of the off-duty policeman,” said Monnat.

District Attorney Marc Bennett sent an email response to KAKE News Wednesday night saying he did meet with representatives with the WPD, but at this point in the process he’s still assessing the situation and does not have an update.

See full video at KAKE.com

HUTCHINSON, Kan.  – What started the Cottonwood Complex blaze that claimed one life and destroyed at least 35 homes?

“We are still in the investigation. There’s not a lot I can say about it, but we are in the middle of that,” said Reno County sheriff Darrian Campbell. “When you see 35 homes totally destroyed, that’s awful. That’s awful. I have no words.”

Campbell says he is impressed with all the help in Reno County, from fire crews coming from all over the state to volunteers pitching in and his staff working overtime.

But he says charges are a possibility, and the state fire marshal’s office is also investigating since there has been a death in the fire.

“Also, there’s so much monetary damage done by this fire,” said Campbell. “We just have to look into it and investigate it. If somebody is responsible for it, we can possibly hold them accountable.”

Some residents near the fire are asking about fines or legal charges coming as a result of the fire.

“I think somebody should have to pay for this,” said Patricia Strait, who lives near the fire. “There’s like, what, 35 houses that were burned down? How many people are out of a home?”

Patricia says her sister lost her home in the fire. And that fire barely missed her own home.

Campbell continues to praise those responders at every level that have stepped up to help.

“The outpour for offers to help is phenomenal, and I just wanted to say thank you to all those agencies,” said Campbell.

Campbell also said the state fire marshal’s office is involved because of a death resulting from the fire.

“Everybody knows that there has been a body found, so automatically, the state fire marshal office has to be notified, and they were on the scene,” said Campbell. “So the state fire marshal, Hutchinson fire department and Reno county sheriff’s office went ahead and responded and to work that crime scene. And I say crime scene because that’s now how it has to be investigated.”

KSN Legal analyst Dan Monnat looked into charges due to the fire.

“The person could be liable for, even unintended deaths,” said Monnat. “There are possibly two homicide charges that could be charged. One is second-degree murder, which is the killing of a human being under circumstances recklessly manifesting an extreme disregard for the value of human life or involuntary manslaughter, which is simply the killing of another human being, recklessly.”

Monnat says those would be extreme charges, but there is case law in Kansas that looks at unintentional consequences from a fire.

KSN News reached out to the district attorney’s office in Reno County.

Deputy district attorney Andrew Davidson responded.

“The investigation into the wildfires is still ongoing, and the Reno County District Attorney’s Office cannot comment about the investigation at this time,” said Davidson. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by this tragedy.”

See full story at KSN.com