ST. LOUIS — An off-duty St. Louis police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old black man who had fired at him, authorities said, hours after people took to the streets to protest the killing, which some likened to the August police killing of an unarmed black man in nearby Ferguson.
St. Louis Police Chief Col. Sam Dotson said the 32-year-old officer, whom he didn’t identify, was patrolling the historic Shaw neighborhood in uniform for a private security company at around 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 when he saw three males and one of the ran off before stopping.
When the officer did a U-turn, all three ran, so the officer gave chase, first in his car and then by foot. During the chase, he got into an altercation with the one he eventually killed, Dotson said at an early-morning news conference.
Dotson said the 18-year-old man, whom he didn’t identify, opened fired on the officer, who returned fire and killed the man. Ballistic evidence shows that the teen fired three shots and tried to fire again but his gun jammed, he said, noting that the gun was recovered.
The officer, a six-year veteran of the St. Louis police force, fired off 17 rounds. Dotson said he didn’t know how many of those bullets struck the suspect, or why the officer, who wasn’t hurt, fired that many shots.
“An investigation will decide if the officer’s behavior was appropriate,” he said at police headquarters.
People who described themselves as relatives of the man told The St. Louis Post Dispatch that he was not armed.
Hours after the shooting, which ha crowd gathered at the scene near the Missouri Botanical Garden. Some shouted “Hands up, don’t shoot” in reference to the fatal shooting in August of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in nearby Ferguson. That shooting has led to weeks of sometimes violent unrest in the St. Louis suburb. The officer, Darren Wilson, has not been charged in the shooting.
Dotson said some in the crowd shouted obscenities at officers and damaged police cars, but that the officers “showed great restraint.” He added: “Any police officer use of force certainly will draw attention.”
No demonstrators were arrested and by 1 a.m. Oct. 9 the crowd had largely dispersed.