armed robbery suspect shot by police;
three independence residents charged in armed robbery conspiracy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that three Independence, Mo., residents were charged in federal court today for their roles in a conspiracy to commit armed robbery, during which one of the defendants was shot by a police officer.
Justin M. Epps, 22, Devontae A. Spears, 19, and Tairre Y. Matthews, 21, all of Independence, were charged in a federal criminal complaint that was filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., with participating in a conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, law enforcement officers were investigating the armed robberies of a Papa John’s restaurant and a KFC restaurant, both in Independence. Epps, who lived close to both of the restaurants and was associated with a tan Chevrolet that matched the description of a vehicle used in one of the robberies, had been identified as a suspect.
Local and federal officers and agents were conducting surveillance at Epps’ apartment building in Hawthorne Place Apartments near East 24 Highway during the night and early morning hours of Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 2 and 3, 2011. At approximately 3:30 a.m., the affidavit says, they observed the vehicle park outside a nearby 7-Eleven store. Epps and Spears, dressed in black, entered the store. Epps was allegedly carrying what appeared to be a handgun.
Officers arrested Epps and Spears as they were leaving the store. Epps was shot by law enforcement officers during the course of his arrest and was taken to the hospital. Spears was arrested without incident. Matthews, who was in the vehicle, was arrested without incident. Officers recovered two handgun air pistols, two white Halloween masks, and a bag containing $141.
Phillips cautioned that the charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin G. Davids. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the FBI.