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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Family Contests Police Account of Killing

ST. LOUIS (CN) - An undercover police detective continued to pump bullets into a dying man as he lay on the ground, then planted a gun near the body, the late man's family claims in Federal Court.

Normane Bennett was 23 when St. Louis police Det. Marc Wasem shot him to death on June 25, 2010, according to the complaint.

Bennett's mother and father sued Wasem, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Board of Police Commissioners, and four of its members.

Bennett's family claims the shooting went like this:

"An unmarked gray or silver police car pulled up in front of Bennett's location. Two St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers, identified as Marc Wasem and Joseph Busso, jumped out of the car with guns drawn and headed toward Bennett.

"Bennett ran to the gangway between two houses, where a struggle ensued.

"Wasem pursued Bennett, caught him and struggled with him.

"Wasem seized Bennett and forced him to the ground.

"Bennett disengaged from the officer ran toward his mother's house. Wasem proceeded to pursue Bennett and fired numerous shots at Bennett.

"Bennett fell to the ground in the alley after being shot.

"Wasem then paused and fired additional shots into Bennett while he was on the ground.

"Bennett was struck at least five times by rounds fired by Wasem. He was struck in the back, chest, chin, right tricep and left forearm. Wasem fired at least seven rounds at Bennett.

"Bennett died from multiple gunshot wounds.

"Wasem, acting alone or in concert with others, planted a gun near Bennett as a ruse in order to try to relieve his culpability in the causes of action."

Police paint a different picture of the incident.

Police told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time that Bennett's family and friends attacked officers when they tried to arrest him on drug charges, allowing Bennett to flee. Bennett then allegedly pulled a revolver from his pants and pointed it at police. A police report states that the Smith & Wesson revolver was recovered about 4 feet from Bennett's body.

The police board unanimously cleared Wasem.

A Post-Dispatch investigation this year found that the Police Department has cleared all but four of the 117 officer-involved shootings over the past 5 years. The newspaper found that the reviews were done with little or no outside scrutiny.

The family's attorney, Craig Kessler, told the Post-Dispatch that he has a list of nine witnesses, including five family members, who will testify that they never saw Bennett with a gun.

The family seeks punitive damages for constitutional violations.

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