Updated at 5:15 p.m. with comments from Chief Sam Dotson, Jeff Roorda, and Ald. Dionne Flowers.
On Tuesday, two officers from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department shot and killed Kajieme Powell, who was 25 years old.
Powell was suspected of shoplifting energy drinks and donuts from a convenience store. The shop owner, believing that Powell was carrying a weapon, contacted police. Another witness, Ald. Dionne Flowers, who represents the area and owns a beauty salon in the same block, noticed that Powell was acting erratically and also called police. Flowers told police she saw a second knife, though only one was recovered at the scene.
Powell approached the officers when they arrived, yelling at them to shoot him already. When he ignored commands to drop the knife, the two officers fired a total of 12 shots. Chief Sam Dotson said the knife was like a steak knife.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said it will act with complete transparency. It has released the 911 calls, dispatch audio, video of the shoplifting, as well as cell phone video of the police shooting taken by a witness.
We are posting the audio and video in its entirety but warn you that it contains graphic language and violence.
The security camera footage of the alleged shoplifting.
Cell phone footage of the shooting itself.
Note: this contains both graphic language and violence.
Dotson said he was already moving the department toward releasing as much information as possible about officer-involved shootings, especially when the suspect is killed. But he said it made sense to start now, given the ongoing aftermath of the death of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer almost two weeks ago. The Powell and Brown scenes are about four miles apart.
"I don’t think any of us can deny that the tension not only in St. Louis but around the county and the world because of the activities in Ferguson over the last 10 or 12 days certainly has led to us making sure that we got this right and answered as many questions as we could as quickly as we can," Dotson said.
Jeff Roorda, the business representative for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, said the union agreed with Dotson's decision to release the surveillance and cell phone video in this case.
"It's exculpatory for one thing," he said.
But he added that transparency needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis.
"There's clearly a public benefit to knowing as much as possible without jeopardizing the investigation," he said.
In a statement, Ald. Flowers praised the pledges of transparency, and said she was praying for Powell's family and for the community.
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