Here’s a summary of the main points from St Louis police chief Jon Belmar’s press conference:
- A 34 year old white officer, who had six years experience, encountered two suspects at the Mobile gas station after responding to report of a theft. He didn’t know that one of the men was armed. The officer fired three shots after the victim raised a pistol at arm’s length. Surveillance video from Mobile station appears to support the police version of events. Only one of the shots hit the victim. No shots were fired by the victim’s “defaced” 9mm pistol.
- Belmar said the shooting was a tragedy for the victim’s family and for police officer involved. The officer will “carry the weight” of this for the rest of his life, Belmar. He said the incident underscores the pressures police officers face.
- Two witnesses have given statements to the police. The police are looking for the friend of the victim who fled the scene.
- A crowd of up 300 protesters gathered at the Mobile gas station after the shooting and four arrests were made after police officers were assaulted. Several bricks were thrown at police officers and three “explosive devices” thought to be fireworks bound together were set off. One police officer was hurt in the leg from one of the explosions another was injured by a brick. Belmar said it was “disturbing” that protests came armed with bricks and explosives.
- Belmar said it was “unreasonable” to expect the officer to have responded with mace or a taser when he was faced with a suspect raising a gun. “The officer responded with what he thought was commensurate force at the time,” Belmar said. He added: “Bad choices were made ... this individual could have complied with the officer. It didn’t have to end with him approaching him with is arm extended and an 9mm pistol in his hand.”
- The police officer was wearing a body cam, but it was not activated at the time of the shooting. His police vehicle was also fitted with a video camera but it was not thought to be activated either. Belmar said officers were “not used to” the new technology. Belmar said surveillance footage from the gas station was described as “really pretty good” .
- The victim had a record of three armed assaults and other charges for theft since he turned 17. His body was removed at around 1.30am.