Just hours before Toni Anderson vanished, a police officer stopped her for driving the wrong way on a two-way street — then let her drive off, dashcam video just released by police in suburban Kansas City, Missouri, shows.
The footage, from about 4:25 a.m. CT on January 15, is among the last known records of Anderson, 20, before her car, with her body in it, were pulled March 10 from the Missouri River. The tape has raised questions about the officer’s decision to let Anderson simply drive away in a case that set off a weekslong search for her across Missouri, her native Kansas and on social media.
Anderson died from accidental drowning, with “ethanol, cocaine and amphetamine intoxication” described as contributing factors, the Jackson County, Missouri, Medical Examiner’s Office announced last week.
‘I don’t feel good’
The dashcam video, released by police, includes an audio exchange in which Anderson tells the North Kansas City, Missouri, officer she doesn’t “feel good.” Anderson giggles when the officer, a 10-year veteran of the force whom the department declined to name, tells her she was on the wrong side of the road.
“Have you been drinking,” he asks, according to the video. “Are you taking any medications or anything?”
“No, I am just really sick,” Anderson responds. “I don’t feel good.”
The officer asks for Anderson’s license and registration, which she appears to provide. He walks back to his squad car while she stays in her black 2014 Ford Focus.
He quickly returns and tells Anderson to “pull into that parking lot” across the street, pointing to a QuikTrip service station.
“Sit there for a while and gather yourself,” he says.
After the five-minute exchange, the dashcam video shows the officer follow Anderson in his squad car as she drives across the road and pulls up to a gas pump. The squad-car camera stays trained on Anderson’s car for about seven more minutes until the officer drives off.
‘Officer’s actions were reasonable’
The video was just released by the North Kansas City Police Department because the Kansas City Police Department has closed its investigation. The Kansas City Police Department was investigating because a missing person report on Anderson was filed with the department.
“Based on this review, we believe that the officer’s actions were reasonable,” North Kansas City police said in a statement.
Anderson was headed home from her job at a local club when police stopped her, her boyfriend, Pete Sanchez, told CNN. She left work at 4:11 a.m., and was adamant about going to a gas station, he said.
During the time the dashcam video shows Anderson’s car at the gas pump, she reportedly sent a text to her friend, Roxanne Townsend.
“It was exactly 4:42 when she texted me and said, ‘I just got pulled over again.’ She said ‘again’ because she gets pulled over all the time,” Townsend told CNN affiliate KDAF.
Anderson’s parents think she got disoriented after the traffic stop and inadvertently drove onto an icy boat launch, they told CNN affiliate KCTV. When her car was pulled from the river, a window was down and her seat belt was off, the medical examiner’s report states.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the location of the officer’s traffic stop and also misidentified the police department that has since closed an investigation of the incident. The article has been updated to reflect that the officer was inside his own jurisdiction when he stopped Toni Anderson and that it was the Kansas City Police Department that closed its investigation.