Use of Force | St. Louis Public Radio

Use of Force

A protester stands in front of a line of St. Louis Police officers on Sept. 15, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As the days of demonstrations over Jason Stockley’s acquittal go on, protesters in St. Louis are outlining the policy changes they say will help create a more equitable justice system and police department.

The main demands involve giving St. Louis and St. Louis County police additional training, equipment and oversight — things that were proposed after a Ferguson officer shot Michael Brown in 2014 but never enacted. That’s because most bills required changes to state law, and the GOP-controlled General Assembly didn’t go for it.

Emanuele Berry|St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation updating Missouri law regarding when police can use deadly force has been signed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

House Bill 2332 brings Missouri's use of force statute in line with the U.S. Supreme Court. In Tennessee v. Garner in 1985, the nation's highest court ruled that a law enforcement officer cannot use deadly force against a fleeing suspect unless he or she has "probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others."

Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri's use of deadly force law would become more in line with federal standards under a bill being weighed by a House committee.

Current state law does not specify that a police officer has to believe a fleeing suspect is dangerous to use deadly force. Senate Bill 661, sponsored by Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, would change the standard to more closely align with the national standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Teddy bears line the fence of the flat where Mansur Ball-Bey was killed earlier this week.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis police department’s use of force policy is receiving poor marks from an advocacy group working to end excessive police violence.

Campaign Zero, a group that includes Ferguson activists Brittany Packnett, Johnetta Elzie and DeRay McKesson, gives the department credit for prioritizing preservation of life, but says St. Louis’ policy fails to set sufficient limitations.

Officer Phil Green, an instructor in the St. Louis Police Academy and chief Sam Dotson present to the subcommittee on police use of force on Nov. 19, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly six months after he first asked for the authority to do so, Alderman Antonio French has started his review of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s use-of-force policies.

French's subcommittee on police use of force held its first meeting Thursday. He had originally hoped for a special committee that would study officer-involved shootings, but the legislation authorizing that committee never passed. A subcommittee can be created without a vote of the Board of Aldermen.

St. Louis International Film Festival

Nick Berardini was just a journalism student at the University of Missouri when he was sent out on an assignment that would impact his life and his career as a filmmaker. He was sent to Moberly, Missouri to report on a man who died while in police custody after being pulled over for drunk driving.

St. Louis attorney Pamela Meanes points her hand like a gun as she talks about the the law governing police use of force Sunday, August 23, 2015 at Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Standing in the annex of the Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Sunday, St. Louis attorney Pamela Meanes told congregants that increased attention to African Americans shot by police has yet to translate into substantial changes to laws and policies.

The immediate past president of the National Bar Association, Meanes was the fourth speaker in the church’s lecture series on “The Ferguson Effect.” She spoke about the impact of Ferguson on the legal system.

“The legal effect on Ferguson is that we’ve shined a light on where the gaping holes are. In a year we haven’t fixed any of them,” said Meanes, a partner at Thompson Coburn. “We have debated cameras, but does Missouri have a camera law? No. We’ve debated training. Has Missouri passed a codified training program? No.”

Demonstrators sketched a chalk outline of a body on the pavement of the Ferguson Police Station on October 13.
Rachel Lippman | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 5:50 p.m. April 29 - The Senate gave final approval to its deadly force bill Wednesday.

The bill raises the standard to justify the use of deadly force. The measure passed with a 32-2 bipartisan vote and now heads to the House.

Photo of police car
Jason Rojas | Flickr

Do police do enough to de-escalate encounters with people who may be mentally ill? Why do police use guns against a person with possible mental health issues who is armed with only a knife?

These are questions that seem to crop up after any incident in which police use deadly force against someone who seems to suffer from mental health issues. They arose last week after the fatal police shooting of a man with a history of mental illness in Jennings, and after the death of Kajieme Powell last year in St. Louis.