Process Server, Police Officer Killed During Eviction Attempt

A court employee trying to serve an eviction notice and a police officer who tried to help him were shot and killed during an eviction over unpaid back taxes

A court employee trying to serve an eviction notice and a police officer who tried to help him were shot and killed during an eviction over unpaid back taxes in Independence, Mo., according to reports.

Three Independence police officers were met with gunfire while coming to the aid of court employee Drexel Mack, 42, the man who had been trying to serve the eviction notice.

Mack, or another civil process server also at the home, had called 911 saying Mack had been shot, Independence Police Chief Adam Dustman told reporters during a press conference. The officers responded at about 1:10 p.m. and approached Mack to help him when someone shot at them, he said.

“I’m very tragically sorry to report that we lost one of our own,” Dustman said, identifying the officer as Cody Allen, 35. The second officer, whose name wasn’t released, underwent surgery and is expected to recover, Dustman said. A third officer also “took gunshot rounds” and had minor injuries, the police chief said.

“We are devastated that a court employee, who is a public servant, was shot by a member of the public while performing their job,” said Presiding Judge Jalilah Otto in a statement. “Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts are with our employee, our entire court family, and the Independence Police Department.”

The man inside the house who allegedly opened fire was identified by police as Larry D. Acree, the home’s former owner. Acree, 69, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, assault in the first degree for wounding a police officer and three additional counts of armed criminal action. The eviction order involved several instances of back taxes that were owed over several years and he no longer had a legal right to the property when the two officers were killed during eviction.

The new owner, records show, bought the property on Aug. 14, 2023, for $260,000 in a delinquent tax sale. The sale was confirmed on Nov. 20. On Feb. 22, records show the new owner paid the $18,543 in back taxes, according to the Kansas City Star.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker told the Kansas City Star that according to the probable cause affidavit explaining the charges, a “notice to vacate” was posted in a conspicuous place on the premises on Feb. 23. It said the notice was a result of a request for a “writ of possession” that was completed Feb. 9. “Basically, what led us here is a year-long eviction process,” Baker said. A court process ordering Acree to vacate the premises, she said, “had been ongoing for some time.”

Baker said that on the day of the shootings, “they took multiple steps to make sure that that property was secured and safe to go into. They knocked and announced their presence.” No one answered. That’s when the process servers began to remove locks, she said. The probable cause statement said that a property maintenance contractor drilled out the lock on the front door. “They were there for a time, having those locks cut and drilled out so that they could enter,” Baker said. “But as Drexel and others were entering … the front door of the residence, he was met with gunfire.”

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