KCPD Memorial   Lest We Forget
Police Officer
Ronald Dee Yoakum
End of Watch: Tuesday, November 26, 1968
Age: 21
DOB: February 15, 1947
Tour of Duty: 10 months
Date of incident:
Cause of death: Gunfire, officer's handgun
Suspect information: Sentenced to life. Paroled in 1997
 

On November 26, 1968, Officer Yoakum, 21, was dispatched with Officers Mynatt and Smith on a disturbance at an apartment building at 3607 Paseo in regard to two men attempting to break into an apartment. Bobby Lane accompanied by Carl Primous was attempting to break into an apartment Lane had previously occupied on the third floor of the building. Officer Mynatt went into the apartment building at 9:45 pm without waiting for his backup. As Office Mynatt ascended the stairs with his service revolver drawn he first observed Bobby Lane with a knife in his hand and ordered him to drop his knife. Lane obeyed dropping his knife to the floor. As Officer Mynatt continued to climb the stairs he then observed Carl Primous with a butcher knife in his hand and ordered him to drop his knife. Both suspects lunged forward and grappled with Officer Mynatt striking him in the head and chest. Suspect Carl Primous was able to disarm Officer Mynatt after kicking him in the head and then held the revolver to Officer Mynatt's head. Bobby Lane told Primous to leave Officer Mynatt alone. The two suspects left Officer Mynatt unharmed and descended the stairs with Primous still in possession of Officer Mynatt's revolver. As the suspects arrived at the second floor of the building they encountered the husband of the resident manager, Fletcher Lewis, who was armed with a shotgun and responding to assist the officer. Primous directed the man to stay out of it and continued down the stairs. As Lane began to descend the stairs to the first floor he turned and fired on Lewis striking him in the chest. Lewis returned fire with the shotgun as the suspects descended the stairs. The suspects encountered Officers Yoakum and Smith as the officers entered the front door of the building. Lane jumped Officer Yoakum and struggled with him as they fell to the floor. Primous also fell to the floor and from a sitting position aimed a semi-automatic pistol at Officer Yoakum. Officer Smith heard a gunshot and fired his revolver at Primous who then pointed his semi-automatic pistol at Officer Smith. Officer Smith fired again at Primous who fell back then ran down the hallway and again aimed his gun at Officer Smith who said he heard the pistol click but not fire as he fired again on Primous, inflicting two fatal gunshot wounds. Bobby Lane rose to his feet and grabbed the cylinder of Officer Smith's revolver and struggled with him until more officers arriving at the scene took Lane into custody. Officer Yoakum received a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. Officer Mynatt was not injured. Officer Smith had not been aware of being injured during the battle but in the aftermath discovered he had received a gunshot wound to his upper arm. Three firearms, an unfired .380 semi-automatic pistol with a dent in the primer of the unfired round in the chamber, Officer Mynatt's revolver and Officer Yoakum's revolver were found on the hall floor. Officer Mynatt's revolver had been fired six times and Officer Yoakum's revolver had been fired once. Officer Smith's revolver had been fired four times.

Bobby Lane was sentenced to life in prison for the murder. Lane appealed his conviction asserting that he did not kill Officer Yoakum. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court determined that there was sufficient evidence to indicate Lane could have shot Officer Yoakum after obtaining the revolver from Primous in the stairwell and also that the trier of facts reasonably could find that the killing of Officer Yoakum during a fight with Lane was a part of one continuous episode and the result of a joint effort and common purpose of Lane and Primous to escape, by use of whatever means necessary, after their joint assault upon and robbery of Officer Mynatt, and Lane's shooting of Fletcher Lewis in the course of their flight down the stairway.

Officer Yoakum had been with the Kansas City Police Department for 10 months and previously served as a member of the Corps of Military Police for the United States Army. Interred: Highland Cemetery, Hamilton, Missouri.

Article by Brent Marchant