An employee of a Kansas City, Kansas, auto parts store has been charged with murder in the killing of a 23-year-old man who was accused of shoplifting, authorities said Thursday.
Carl R. Kemppainen, 39, was among the employees working at the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, 4700 Parallel Parkway, where Kansas City, Kansas, police officers discovered the body of Diamond Steen on Tuesday evening.
Steen, of Kansas City, was one of two men who police said were involved in a physical confrontation with store employees after being suspected of stealing. After officers arrived on scene, they found Steen unresponsive and he was declared dead there.
Kemppainen faces a single count of second-degree murder in Wyandotte County District Court. Prosecutors said he acted recklessly, though unintentionally, in killing Steen.
Kemppanian was being held Thursday in the county jail on a $125,000 bond.
District Attorney Mark Dupree said an autopsy confirmed Steen died of strangulation. He declined to provide further detail on the manner of the homicide other than to say Steen’s “airway was completely stopped.”
Four people, including Kemppanian, were being investigated by the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department’s Major Case Unit, Dupree said. More criminal charges could follow based on the findings of detectives as a “plethora of evidence” has come forth, the district attorney added.
Among the evidence reviewed before arriving at a charging decision was video footage of the encounter and statements from witnesses made to police. One of the videos received by authorities was one shared over social media this week, Dupree said.
A video circulated on Facebook and TikTok this week showed store employees detaining two men outside the business. Both men were on the ground, one on the sidewalk in front of the store, the other in the parking lot, for the duration of that video clip.
On Thursday, Dupree celebrated the work of detectives, saying police are the trained professionals assigned to handle criminal activity. He added that “someone’s life cannot be taken because of a potential act that he or she is committing without the court of law.”
“We have law enforcement. We have police. We have folks who put their lives on the line daily to protect and to serve this community,” Dupree said. “It is law enforcement’s job to do the policing. No one else’s. And it’s important that the community understands that.”
Online court records did not list a case for Kemppainen or a defense attorney as of Thursday.