Saint Louis Metropolitan Police today showed surveillance footage of a shooting incident from earlier this week. Two officers shot and killed a 16-year-old boy outside a gas station in St. Louis' Old North neighborhood.
The boy’s mother, Jukita Johnson, has previously told reporters she was there at the scene of the shooting, though police claim she wasn’t. Accounts also differ on whether police announced themselves as officers as they approached Ross. Whether Ross’ gun was visible during the police’s confrontation has also been up for debate.
Police sought to quell the differing narratives this afternoon. City and police officials allowed reporters to twice view surveillance footage of the incident leading to Ross death at a press briefing hosted by Lt. John Green. The footage will not be released for some time in an effort to “preserve the integrity of the investigation for the family of Darryl Ross and the police officers involved,” according to Monte Chambers, a program manager with the Department of Public Safety.
The footage begins with a “witness” (reportedly Johnson, the boy's mother) arriving at the gas station in a red vehicle. About four to five individuals, who all appear to be around the same age as Ross, huddle around the vehicle. Police circled where they suspected subjects stowed guns.
According to a the police's incident summary report, drug enforcement detectives saw several armed subjects outside the Shell gas station around 11:40 p.m. on Sunday night. They “observed several subjects on the lot armed with guns.”
At one point, police noted that Ross possessed a handgun, but the gun was not clearly visible in the blurry surveillance footage.
Ross arrived in a separate vehicle as the first subjects shown in the video and had several interactions with them. A few minutes into the footage, Ross traveled from the front of the gas station’s convenience store to an alleyway to the east.
The video then cuts to Ross standing in the alleyway. Two unmarked police vehicles soon pull up to Ross. One officer jumps out of the first vehicle closest to Ross, at which point the teen starts to run as a second officer trails behind the first.
Both officers wore plain clothes and black ballistic vests with "POLICE" marked on them in bold white letters on the front and back. The video contained no audio, so it’s unclear if the officers verbally announced themselves as officers, or if they said anything at all.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that Ross’ uncle, Johnny Parker, said officers had not identified themselves as police and Ross feared the police were actually members of a gang.
The video then cuts to the front of the convenience store, showing Ross running away from officers. It cuts again to show Ross tripping over a sidewalk curb along North Florissant with an officer close behind him.
A dark object drops a few feet away from Ross. He then stumbles to pick it up. The object is in his hand for just a moment before police shoot him. Police identified the object as a handgun.
From the RFT’s interpretation of the video, it did not appear as if Ross made any gesture to indicate he was going to turn around and point a handgun at the officers. It was also not clear if Ross intended to pick the object up and continue running.
The video paused several times in the seconds that led up to Ross’ killing to show on-screen notes from the police department. They point out that Ross tripped, dropped his gun and grabbed it before officers shot him.
Ross made small movements with his arms and torso as he laid on the ground afterward. After an undetermined amount of time, and after Ross stopped moving, officers began administering medical aid. One officer retrieved a medical kit. The video ends shortly after, with Ross’ body on the ground while red and blue lights flicker in the background as officers tend to him.
A visibly upset woman with the same hair color as Ross’ mother is seen nearby Ross as he lays on the ground after the shooting. Ross’ family members have contended that Ross was at the gas station along with his mother to buy chicken tenders. At one point during the video, Ross exited the gas station’s convenience store with a white container and what looked like plastic eating utensils.
Ross was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
It’s unclear from the footage how much time elapsed during the entire incident. The video edits together different angles from different cameras. Police paused the video at times and included Google Maps images to show where gas station cameras were located. Altogether, police showed reporters 9 minutes and 16 seconds of video.
No officers were injured and Ross’ weapon was recovered at the scene, according to SLMPD’s incident summary.
Both officers have been put on administrative leave. One officer, 37, has worked at SLMPD for 14 years. The other 27, has been with the department for four years. The older officers is Black, the other white.
Lt. John Green answered few questions at Friday's press briefing. He said the investigation into Ross’ death is still in its early stages and the video may be released some time later.
When asked if he had any message for Ross’ family, Green said, “We’re sorry.”