Missouri Senators, Not Taxpayers, Will Pay Potential Damages In Chiefs Rally Shooting Case

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers will have to pay out of their own pockets if they lose defamation cases filed against them for falsely accusing a Kansas man of being one of the Kansas City Chiefs parade shooters and an immigrant in the country illegally.

Missouri's Republican Gov. Mike Parson on Monday told his administration not to use taxpayer dollars to pay any potential damages awarded to Denton Loudermill Jr., of Olathe, Kansas, as part of his lawsuits against three state lawmakers.

But Missouri Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s office will continue to represent the state senators, despite Parson earlier this month calling that “problematic.”

“We are not going to target innocent people in this state,” Parson told reporters earlier this month. “This gentleman did nothing wrong whatsoever other than he went to a parade and he drank beer and he was inspected.”

The Feb. 14 shooting outside the historic Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, killed a well-known DJ and injured more than 20 others, many of them children.

Loudermill, who was never cited or arrested in the shooting, is seeking at least $75,000 in damages in each of the suits.

“Missourians should not be held liable for legal expenses on judgments due to state senators falsely attacking a private citizen on social media,” Parson wrote in a Monday letter to his administration commissioner.

Loudermill last month filed nearly identical federal lawsuits against three Republican Missouri state senators: Rick Brattin, of Harrisonville; Denny Hoskins, of Warrensburg; and Nick Schroer, of St. Charles County.

The complaints say Loudermill suffered “humiliation, embarrassment, insult, and inconvenience” over the “highly offensive” posts.

A spokesperson for the Missouri attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment Monday about Parson's request not to pay for potential damages or the lawsuits filed against the senators.

Loudermill froze for so long after gunfire erupted that police had time to put up crime scene tape, according to the suits. As he tried to go under the tape to leave, officers stopped him and told him he was moving “too slow.”

They handcuffed him and put him on a curb, where people began taking pictures and posting them on social media. Loudermill ultimately was led away from the area and told he was free to go.

But posts soon began appearing on the lawmakers’ accounts on the social platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that included a picture of Loudermill and accusations that he is an “illegal alien” and a “shooter,” the suits said.

Loudermill, who was born and raised in the U.S., received death threats even though he had no involvement in the shooting, according to the complaints.

The litigation described him as a “contributing member of his African-American family, a family with deep and long roots in his Kansas community.”