Fatal Police Shooting Near Ferguson Rattles the Public

The shooting of a 23-year-old black man appears to be unrelated to the fallout from Michael Brown’s death. But pressure on police in the area is only mounting.

Marina Koren and Matt Berman
Aug. 19, 2014, 11:41 a.m.

Po­lice shot and killed an armed man in north St. Louis on Tues­day, fur­ther rat­tling a gen­er­al pub­lic already on edge.

St. Louis Met­ro­pol­it­an Po­lice Chief Sam Dot­son said in a Tues­day press con­fer­ence that po­lice shot and killed a 23-year-old black man after he re­portedly ap­proached two of­ficers with a knife. Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, the man had pre­vi­ously entered a store with knife in hand and en­gaged in an ar­gu­ment with the store own­er.

When po­lice ar­rived on the scene, Dot­son said, the man was act­ing “er­rat­ic­ally” and shouted, “Shoot me, kill me now,” an ac­count cor­rob­or­ated by wit­nesses. The of­ficers re­portedly asked the man to drop the knife, but he al­legedly did not re­spond. The chief could not say how many shots were fired by the of­ficers, who have been placed on ad­min­is­trat­ive leave. The knife has been re­covered by po­lice.

Tweets and video foot­age from the scene show spec­tat­ors gath­er­ing near the scene of the shoot­ing, chant­ing “Hands up, don’t shoot!” as pro­test­ers have done in Fer­guson.

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“It’s gonna break out here the same way it did in Fer­guson,” an un­named St. Louis nat­ive told Vice’s Justin Glawe, who is on site. NBC News re­ports that over 100 people gathered at the scene.

The shoot­ing ap­pears to be un­re­lated to the protests in Fer­guson sparked by the po­lice-shoot­ing death of 18-year-old Mi­chael Brown on Aug. 9. But all eyes have been on law en­force­ment in the re­gion since that day, and St. Louis po­lice know it.

“If someone ap­proaches you with­in three feet with a knife, I think you have a right to pro­tect your­self,” Dot­son said. “I think we can all un­der­stand what is go­ing on in Fer­guson, but I think every po­lice of­ficer that’s out here has the right to de­fend them­selves and the com­munity.”

Dot­son said po­lice will re­view sur­veil­lance foot­age from the store if it is avail­able. He sug­ges­ted that his de­part­ment will not be slow to re­lease in­form­a­tion about the shoot­ing. In the days fol­low­ing Brown’s death, Fer­guson’s po­lice de­part­ment was cri­ti­cized for its si­lence on what happened.

“It’s im­port­ant for people to un­der­stand what happened,” Dot­son said. “We’re go­ing to get that mes­sage out as quickly as we can.”

The shoot­ing Tues­day took place about 2.6 miles from Fer­guson, fol­low­ing a dir­ect line from the QuikTrip to the in­ter­sec­tion of River­view Boulevard and Mc­Clar­an Av­en­ue in St. Louis city. You can see that ex­act dis­tance here:

Contributions by Stephanie Stamm