KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a longtime detective with the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department was indicted by a federal grand jury today for aiding and abetting another person to illegally possess a firearm that he used in a gang-related shooting.
“A sworn law enforcement has been charged with allowing a known violent criminal to keep his gun, even after it was used in a gang-related shooting,” Dickinson said. “Today’s indictment alleges a reckless violation of the public trust and blatant disregard of his duty to uphold the law.”
Scott Thomas Coates, 42, of St. Joseph, was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo.
According to the indictment, Coates (in his official capacity as a police detective) interviewed Corey Andrew Barr on Oct. 24, 2007, about a recent gang-related shooting near 22nd and Messanie in St. Joseph. Barr admitted that he had brandished a Smith and Wesson .40-caliber handgun and fired four or five shots at other persons during the shootout. Barr brought the handgun with him to his interview with Coates, the indictment says, who merely photographed the gun and allowed Barr to leave with the handgun at the end of the interview.
Coates permitted Barr to leave with the handgun and to continue to possess the handgun, the indictment says, despite the fact that he knew Barr was prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm due to his 2005 conviction for domestic violence.
Coates was ordered by a superior officer to locate Barr and seize the handgun, which he did on the same day. However, the indictment says, Coates did not book the firearm into evidence until July 7, 2009, more than 20 months later.
On Sept. 1, 2010, Coates allegedly caused the handgun to be returned to Barr, despite the fact that Barr was still prohibited by federal law from possessing any firearm. By that time, Barr had a second conviction for domestic violence. This alleged conduct by Coates forms the basis of today’s federal indictment for aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
Barr was arrested on Sept. 7, 2010, when St. Joseph police officers responded to a disturbance call involving people with firearms, including assault rifles. A witness told officers that one of the men involved in the disturbance was walking through a nearby park. Officers located Barr in the park; he was carrying the loaded handgun in a holster on his waist. Barr was indicted by a federal grand jury for illegally possessing a firearm. After pleading guilty, Barr was sentenced to 47 months in federal prison.
Dickinson cautioned that the charge contained in this indictment 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 Deputy U.S. Attorney Gene Porter. It was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the cooperation of officers from the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department.