Tim McCue, the DEA agent involved in an infamous KCK road rage incident, is now a recruiter for the agency

When the Drug Enforcement Agency goes prospecting for new agents in the Midwest, who do they send out as the face of the organization?

A man who is best known for perpetrating an infamous road-rage incident and subsequent beating of a Kansas City, Kansas, man, one that cost local and federal governments thousands of dollars.

Tim McCue about a year ago was reassigned from the Kansas City-area DEA office to St. Louis, where he now works for the agency as a recruiter.

McCue was an on-duty DEA agent in Kansas City, Kansas, on July 10, 2003, driving an agency car that afternoon. He got in an accident with a KCK man named Barron Bowling, who was driving to pick up a prescription. Both cars collided when they were headed the same direction on a narrow road in KCK. McCue was passing Bowling on the right, triggering the accident.

After both cars stopped, McCue approached Bowling’s car with his gun drawn. Bowling had his driver’s license in hand for McCue, not exactly the behavior of someone who was planning to resist a law-enforcement officer. McCue nonetheless pulled Bowling out of the vehicle and administered a severe beating. Even after Bowling was handcuffed, McCue continued to kick the man, according to court records.

McCue testified in a deposition that he called Bowling “white trash” and a “motherfucker” after he rained blows upon him. Witnesses reported hearing McCue tell Bowling that “I’m going to kill you, you son of a bitch.”

McCue added that he was never reprimanded for the epithets, even though the DEA handbook instructs agents in its handbook to “[behave] in a professional manner appropriate to the setting, and in a civil and courteous manner toward other DEA employees and the general.”

It’s difficult to make the case that McCue handled anything that day “in a professional manner appropriate to the setting.” Yet McCue testified in a 2005 deposition that he wasn’t reprimanded for his use of epithets against Bowling, even though he acknowledged that it was the sort of conduct that ran afoul of DEA guidelines.

Overall, though, he thought he handled things fine that day.

“[M]y opinion is I used good judgment under the circumstances of what happened,” McCue testified, later couching himself as the victim of a crime because of the car accident.

A federal judge didn’t see it that way. Bowling won a $833,250 jury award in 2010 against the federal government. Federal judge Julie Robinson penned an order in that case that was highly critical of law enforcement’s response to the Bowling incident. In it, she determined that much of McCue’s testimony in the case lacked credibility.

Bowling suffers lingering effects to this day from the incident. A KCK police officer named Max Seifert investigated the accident and found that McCue was the one at fault and that Bowling was the victim of excessive force. Seifert was later marginalized within his department for not kowtowing to law enforcement’s version of the events. That treatment later followed him to the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office (for more on that, read this story).

In other words, McCue’s behavior that day left a permanent mark on one man’s health and another man’s career. Yet McCue remains with the DEA. And he’s responsible for cultivating new ranks for the agency. 

When asked why McCue was transferred to St. Louis, DEA spokeswoman Karin Caito didn’t offer specifics.

“Agents have several reasons to move if they have different ambitions within DEA, if they can choose to through a promotion route,” Caito tells The Pitch.

Does that mean McCue received a promotion?

“Specifically, we don’t talk about individual agents,” Caito says.

But does it make sense for the DEA to put a person with McCue’s past in a position of recruiting new agents to the agency? 

Caito wasn’t aware of the Bowling incident.

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