Shooting leaves Ballwin officer paralyzed from the neck down | St. Louis Public Radio

Shooting leaves Ballwin officer paralyzed from the neck down

Jul 18, 2016

Updated July 18 with news on Flamion's condition — The Ballwin police officer shot during a traffic stop on July 8 is paralyzed from the neck down.

The bullet that struck 31-year-old Michael Flamion caused "catastrophic damage" to the spinal cord, Ballwin Police Chief Kevin Scott said on Monday. Flamion remains on a ventilator to help him breathe.

"Mike is, however, very alert. He recognizes all of his family, all of his co-workers," Scott said. "He is responsive to questions, and he will even try to mouth words, which is obviously hampered by the intubation."

More than 2,600 have donated a total of $187,277 to an online fundraiser for Flamion. The Backstoppers, a non-profit organization that supports first responders killed or injured on duty, is also providing financial assistance. Flamion had spent seven years with the DeSoto, Mo., police department before joining the Ballwin force two years ago. 

Flamion was injured July 8 when he pulled over a driver  for speeding in the 300 block of New Ballwin Road.  Antonio Taylor, 32, has been charged in connection with the shooting. 

"While going back to his vehicle, with his back turned to the motorist, the driver, came out of the vehicle quickly, advanced on the officer and fired three shots," Scott said at a news conference that day. The bullet that hit Flamion immediately paralyzed him.

Ballwin Police officer Mike Flamion
Credit Ballwin Police press release

Police from multiple jurisdictions responded to the scene, Scott said, and arrested a suspect a short time later. Taylor, of the 1200 block of Tower Grove Avenue in St. Louis, faces three felony counts:  assault on a law enforcement officer, armed criminal action and unlawful possession of a firearm. His bail is set at $500,000 cash-only.

Scott later addressed Ballwin residents in a tweeted video, thanking "well-wishers" for their messages of support.

St. Louis Public Radio has redacted Taylor's Social Security number and exact address from the charging documents. All other information is presented as-is.

Taylor was on probation for a weapons charge when he shot the officer, said St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch. He also had weapons charges in Oklahoma. Police said Taylor had also served time in California. 

Police recovered a semi-automatic handgun at the scene of the arrest after a short vehicle and foot pursuit. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called the attack an "ambush," but  would not speculate if Taylor was motivated buy the mass shooting Thursday in Dallas, in which five police officers were killed and another seven injured, along with two civilians.

From left, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, County Police Chief Jon Belmar and Ballwin Police Chief Kevin Scott
Credit File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

"I'm not going to try to get inside his head, and I don't think it's appropriate to at this point in the investigation. I'm not going to give him a motive, because I don't know what that motive might have been," Belmar said. 

But he said the past week has been part of a trying time for police departments.

"You don't have to hear me say it, that right now it's a very difficult time in law enforcement, and it has been for a long time," Belmar said. I can assure you that every police officer in this room regardless of agency has worked incredibly hard on community engagement, on the right things to do every day. I promise you that."

Follow Liz Schlemmer on Twitter: @liz_schlemmer

Follow Rachel Lippmann 0n Twitter: @rlippmann