St. Louis County police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that left a Jennings man dead.
Thaddeus McCarroll, 23, was shot and killed by an officer on the St. Louis County police tactical team around 11:30 p.m. Friday night after allegedly charging at the officers with a knife.
At a news conference early Saturday morning, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the tactical team first tried to disarm McCarroll by shooting him in the thigh with a "rubber round" from a gun.
“He had a Bible in one hand and a knife in the other, and he did drop the Bible. Obviously we were hoping that he would drop the knife," Belmar said. "Had he done that, then the officers were already prepared to physically engage him, ground him, and then this would have been over. He would have been in the hospital instead of where we are today.”
McCarroll's mother initially called police to her home at the 9200 block of Riverwood Drive after McCarroll locked her out of the house, according to a news release provided by St. Louis County police. She told the officers who responded that her son was armed with a knife, and had been talking about going on a "journey" and a "mission," and that such behavior was not normal.
The officers who first responded attempted to negotiate with McCarroll for about an hour, the department said, but he did not leave the residence. The tactical unit arrived after 10:30 p.m. and began negotiating with McCarroll, who eventually came out of the house with the knife and Bible in his hands.
Officers can be heard on body camera footage ordering McCarroll to drop the weapon, and trying to establish what was going on. Officers deployed the rubber round when McCarroll began allegedly walking toward them with a knife. When he did not drop the weapon, and allegedly charged the officers, two fired multiple shots. The body camera footage appears to be from an officer in the back row, and does not show the actual shooting.
McCarroll's behavior before the incident immediately raised the prospect of mental illness, and whether police had responded properly.
Parents, lovers, friends, and family of a “troubled” black person, PLEASE don’t ever call the police on them.
— Dr. Cornel Fresh (@WyzeChef) April 18, 2015
Maybe we need an alternative 911 w/police backing mental health/substance abuse experts dispatched to scene. https://t.co/8uy8O9KfcM
— ArchCityDefenders (@ArchCityDefense) April 18, 2015
Other activists questioned the intensity of the police response, given that McCarroll was armed only with a knife.
#ThaddeusMcCarroll had a knife. The horde of officers were all armed with guns. Knives and guns are not equivalent.
— deray mckesson (@deray) April 18, 2015
Belmar said that St. Louis County Police brought McCarroll to the hospital for psychiatric help last July after a similar encounter with police.
“He again was in an agitated mental state," Belmar said, describing last summer's interaction. "He made some threats against the officers. He made some threats against his own life. We were fortunate in that case (because) we didn’t have to take any force against him. We were able to take him to the hospital and get him some assistance with medical help and psychiatric help. I wish it would have worked.”
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