Lead Into Gold

A cop shoots a colleague and makes him a wealthy man

Campbell was only a few feet away from Barthelmass when he was hit in the left hand by the bullet. Campbell later told a detective that Barthelmass yelled at Poindexter: "Look what you made me do, you made me shoot this officer."

Things had gotten serious, and now asses needed to be covered.

In the police report, Hall wrote that Adams was "immediately accosted" by Poindexter when she arrived at the mall, that he "followed her without her permission" and that she asked a Lane Bryant employee "to call Galleria security because she was afraid of suspect Poindexter." Hall said, "I asked Victim Adams if she would prosecute Poindexter on the charge of Stalking to which she agreed." After Adams agreed to prosecute, Hall wrote, he decided to arrest Poindexter. But Adams, told by the Riverfront Times of the officer's claims, says forcefully, "They are lying. That's a lie. I did not say that."

Eric Poindexter flees the Galleria with Overland Officer Scott Barthelmass in pursuit.
Eric Poindexter flees the Galleria with Overland Officer Scott Barthelmass in pursuit.
Poindexter races through the Galleria in an effort to avoid security.
Poindexter races through the Galleria in an effort to avoid security.

The report justified Barthelmass' unholstered gun by stating that Poindexter "kept his hands in front of him as though he were trying to retrieve something from the waistband of his pants or pockets" -- even though no gun was ever found and no one testified that he actually saw a gun in Poindexter's hand. The officers scoured the field where Poindexter was arrested, but they didn't find anything. They interviewed Adonica Drake, Poindexter's girlfriend and a clerk at the Galleria's Avon kiosk. Poindexter had taken her to work that morning, so the officers asked to search Drake's car for "contraband." Again, they came up empty-handed.

Why did Poindexter run? He didn't return our requests for comment, but the police later told employees from Lane Bryant and Beauty Outlet that Poindexter had outstanding warrants, something that wasn't discovered until after Campbell was shot and Poindexter carted off to jail.

Richmond Heights asked the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney's office to issue a case against Poindexter for misdemeanor stalking and resisting arrest on Dec. 30, 1999. The prosecutor agreed and asked a judge to enter an order prohibiting Poindexter from contacting Adams. Adams tells the Riverfront Times she didn't know that stalking charges were being brought against him and said she was never contacted to be a witness and never requested the order prohibiting contact. However, the indictment lists Adams as a witness. Poindexter entered a guilty plea to stalking and resisting arrest and received a suspended imposition of sentence.

The Galleria fired Barthelmass -- the shooting was bad for the mall's carefully crafted image. Overland reprimanded Barthelmass and forced him to attend training in "use of force," as well as "shoot, not shoot" situations. Barthelmass, who is still working as an Overland cop, refused to comment for this story.

Calls to Galleria security chief Larry Beerman were returned by Koch, the spokeswoman. She says all of the Galleria's information on the incident "was put into that police report." Asked whether she had any comment about Adams' claims that Poindexter wasn't stalking her, Koch says that all of the information would be in the police report. She says she doesn't know how many times an officer might draw his gun on a weekly basis at the Galleria but stresses that the "public-safety officers [security guards] do not carry weapons." As for the number of police officers working secondary jobs at the mall, Koch declines to provide the numbers on the grounds that "specific information about our public-safety policies and procedures would compromise what we are trying to do here in keeping our shoppers safe."

After several surgeries, Campbell was able to return to work. The St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners gave him a commendation three weeks after the shooting. Campbell sued Hycel Partners, the owner of the Galleria, claiming the company was negligent in failing to properly train and supervise its security personnel, including Barthelmass.

Campbell declined requests for an interview, but his attorney, James Dowd, says the case is troubling. Whenever Dowd goes to the mall, he says, he thinks about the day his client was shot: "I think about that police-chase scene, and maybe I feel a little less secure knowing that, at least in that incident, they really didn't know what the hell they were doing. And that is kind of troubling -- guys with guns who don't know what they are doing and don't know why they are doing it."

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