A 39-year-old employee at an auto parts dealer in Kansas City, Kansas, was arrested this week after being accused of killing a 23-year-old he believed was shoplifting from the business, strangling the man to death.
Carl R. Kemppainen was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with one count of second-degree murder — unintentional but reckless in the slaying of Diamond Steen, jail records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
“Make no mistake, it is law enforcement’s job to do the policing, no one else’s,” Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree said in a Thursday news conference announcing the charges against Kemppanian.
The Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, in a press release said the incident took place at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts store in the 4700 block of Parallel Parkway.
According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Kansas City, Missouri, NBC affiliate KSHB-TV, first responders arrived just after 6 p.m. and immediately found Steen unresponsive. Emergency Medical Services personnel tried CPR but were unsuccessful and declared him dead there.
An autopsy found that Steen’s manner of death was a homicide and the cause was strangulation. The DA on Thursday disclosed few details about the alleged murder but did say that Steen’s “airway was completely stopped.”
Authorities reportedly said that the situation unfolded when Steen and another individual whose name has not been reported came into the store and were suspected of stealing multiple items, the Kansas City Star reported. Store employees reportedly confronted Steen and the other man, resulting in an argument that escalated and became violent.
A video of the incident reportedly went viral on Facebook and TikTok, showing store employees detaining the two men on the ground outside the store. One alleged shoplifter was on the sidewalk, and the other was in the parking lot, though it was not immediately clear which one was Steen.
Asked whether Steen’s alleged shoplifting would affect the charges brought against Kemppanian, Dupree indicated the possibility was not likely.
“The reasoning by which police were called out were brought to my attention. Part of that is still being investigated,” Dupree said during the news conference. “If there was a potential crime that was being alleged, we do know that in this country, you still have to go to the court, and someone’s life cannot be taken.”
The DA added that authorities are looking into possibly filing charges against three other individuals involved in the incident.
Kemppainen was booked into the Wyandotte County Detention Center and released after posting a bond of $125,000.