No Charges in St. Louis Police Killing

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – The St. Louis circuit attorney said Tuesday she will not file criminal charges against two St. Louis police officers who shot Kajieme Powell to death after he threatened them with a knife, 10 days after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.
     Shortly after St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce announced the results, Police Chief Sam Dotson upheld a promise to release the names of the officers when the investigation was completed. They are Nicholas Shelton, 31, who had nearly four years on the force, and Ellis Brown, 25, who has more than four years.
     The officers responded to a 911 call that a man had stolen energy drinks and pastries from a north St. Louis market at about 12:20 p.m. on Aug. 19, 2014.
     Powell can be seen in a witness’s cellphone video approaching the officers with a knife, screaming, “Shoot me! Kill me now!” The video shows the officers opened fire about 14 seconds after they got out of their vehicle.
     Each officer fired six shots at Powell. Joyce’s report showed 13 entrance wounds, one of them probably a re-entry wound.
     Powell’s family said the 25-year-old suffered from mental illness, and criticized how the officers handled the situation. Joyce’s report notes that neither officer had taken the police department’s Critical Incident Training, to help them deal with people who may be mentally ill.
     “Under the circumstances, it was reasonable for the officers to believe that Powell was advancing on Officer 1 to inflict serious physical injury or to commit the forcible felony of assault against one or both of the officers,” Joyce’s report states. “Therefore, prosecutors conclude that the officers could have reasonably believed the use of deadly force was necessary to protect them from Powell.”
     The shooting came 10 days after the Michael Brown shooting, which sparked violent protests in nearby Ferguson. Like the Brown shooting, the officers were white and the victim was black.
     About 150 protesters gathered outside the market the night Powell was shot. Several dozen returned on the first anniversary.
     Powell’s family told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch they were disappointed but not surprised by Joyce’s decision. They wanted the officers to be charged at least with involuntary manslaughter.
     Powell’s family sued the police department for wrongful death in August. That lawsuit is pending.

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