Widow of KC firefighter killed by off-duty KCPD officer says new video shows her husband was victim

Stephanie Bruno says officer used excessive force

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A new piece of surveillance video has surfaced from the night a Kansas City bride became a widow, video the public has not seen until now.

An off-duty Kansas City police officer, Donald Hubbard, shot and killed 26-year-old Anthony Bruno during a fight a block away from the Marriott Muehlebach hotel, where Bruno was staying with his wife Stephanie.

Stephanie Bruno believes the newly-released footage may shed new light on what happened to her Kansas City firefighter husband the night they celebrated their wedding reception and that the footage proves her husband's death could have been avoided.

"I married my best friend," Stephanie said remembering her late husband, "He was the happiest person I ever met."

The couple married on Nov. 16, 2013, on a Florida beach. But just two weeks later, on November 30, Stephanie was widowed.

Security cameras captured the series of events that evening. Stephanie says that it shows that her husband’s death was unnecessary.

"This didn't happen the way it should have happened, Anthony was defending himself," Stephanie said.

Stephanie said after their cab driver pulled up to the hotel, the couple got into a dispute with the cab driver over a $5 cab fare. Stephanie said the taxi cab driver called her an obscene name and sent her new husband into a rage.

"It's the first time I've seen him lose his temper," Stephanie recalled.

The cab driver, Ahmad Alomari, later told Kansas City police in a sworn statement, "He (Anthony) wanna show her Superman ...he punched me more than 10, 15 times.”

Stephanie said she reacted immediately.

"I yelled at him, 'Anthony stop it, Anthony stop it' and he stopped," she said.

Hotel video captured Bruno walking away from the scene down an alleyway in between the buildings. It would be the last time Stephanie would see her 26-year-old husband alive.

Next – New Video shows the beginning of the of a fight that would end in death

At the same time, Officer Hubbard, who worked off-duty for the Marriott Muehlebach that night, approached the bloody driver.

Officer Hubbard, a 17-year member of the force, headed in the same direction as Mr. Bruno. The clips then show the off-duty officer pursuing Bruno through the alleyways.

Stephanie said her husband was trying to calm down after the altercation.

"He went around the block to cool his head," Stephanie explained.

Officer Hubbard later told police in a sworn statement, when he intercepted Bruno a block away from the hotel on Baltimore Street, he "approached the subject and identified myself,” and stated, "I gave him numerous verbal commands to give me his hands and stop resisting."

Ken McClain represents the Bruno family. McClain said the new video shows Officer Hubbard using excessive force.

"It shows that he (the officer) ran across the street and tackled him," McClain noted in describing the video.

It's video Stephanie and McClain believe proves that Anthony Bruno had no alternative but to fight for his life.

41 Action News obtained the new video from Kansas City Police Department. The video, not yet shown to the public, is grainy, but shows Anthony Bruno in a white shirt, and the uniformed Officer Hubbard meet and immediately lock in a struggle.

"Anthony is being subjected to extremely aggressive, unlawful force." McClain explained, "The officer, security guard, intercepts him and begins to hit him...”

“Anthony is being hit ... before the video tape the general public has seen begins," McClain continued.

Two witnesses walked up seconds later and started to shoot very clear cell phone video. That video captured the struggle moments before the fight between the Kansas City firefighter and the Kansas City off-duty police officer turned deadly.

The witnesses shooting the video yell to Officer Hubbard, "What did he do?"

Officer Hubbard responded, "Do I look like I have help here?"

At that point, Bruno got the upper hand and flipped Officer Hubbard over on his back.

Hubbard later told investigators in a sworn statement, "I believed the suspect was not going to stop hitting me until he killed me."

Seconds later, Officer Hubbard pulled his gun and fired.

Next – FBI vet, victim’s family disagree on use of force

41 Action News showed both videos to retired FBI agent and former police officer Michael Tabman. Tabman has 27 years of experience in law enforcement. In his opinion, Officer Hubbard didn't use excessive force.

"I didn't see any punching, any kicking or anything that was unreasonable. He's using virtually no force and Bruno was resisting," he said.

Tabman believes, by looking at the totality of the circumstances, Officer Hubbard shot Anthony Bruno to save his own life.

Stephanie and McClain believe there is proof otherwise.

"After Anthony's being beat Anthony tries to submit and says 'Which hand do you want? Why can't you be nice? I don't want to get hit again,’" McClain said.

"It was completely preventable, there was no need for that force," Stephanie said while in tears. "He wouldn't resist unless he was in fear of his life."

An autopsy showed Anthony Bruno was legally drunk, three times the legal limit. Tabman believes alcohol fueled the aggressive struggle.

"I'm allowed to use force - reasonable force - to overcome your resistance," Tabman said, explaining a police officer’s perspective, even if pain is inflicted.

But Bruno's widow and her attorney argue the officer should have carried non-lethal force.

"He couldn't call for backup because he didn't have his radio, " McClain explained. "He had neither the Tazer, the pepper spray or the baton in order so that he could have used something short of lethal force. All he had was his gun."

The Kansas City Police Department would not comment specifically about the case, but did provide 41 Action News their written policy. 

It recommends officers carry a radio, but doesn't require off-duty officers to carry a baton, pepper spray or Tazer.

As for Bruno's actions that night, 41 Action News asked McClain if they ultimately led to his death.

"I'm sure he would say yes," McClain responded.

For two hours, Stephanie waited around the corner in the hotel lobby for her new husband. She didn't know what had happened until a relative pulled up to the hotel and rushed her to the hospital.

 "In my wedding dress, in my husband's jacket,” she recalled. “It all could have been avoided; it all should have been avoided... I miss my best friend."

Stephanie and her attorney said they plan to sue Officer Hubbard and the Marriott Muehlebach Hotel. In February, a grand jury sided with Officer Hubbard and recommended that no criminal charges should be filed in the death of Anthony Bruno.

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