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Monday, September 15, 2014

Still No Answers Seven Months After Police Shoot and Kill Stephon Averyhart

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 6:00 AM

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"I don't think they're investigating anything," she says, adding that several months ago, a receptionist in the police department told her that the case was closed and ruled a "justifiable homicide," which would run counter to what the SLMPD says today.

Residents in the neighborhood where Averyhart was killed, including several who live in houses that are adjacent to the alley where the shooting occurred, say police haven't talked to them. The fatal incident happened at around noon and many people were outside, including several of Averyhart's friends, who were standing in front of a tire shop that is also adjacent to the alley.

See also: Family of Man Shot to Death By St. Louis Police Say Cops Lied

"The police never came around here to ask us anything," says Paul Fields, a friend of Averyhart who lives in the neighborhood.

That answer was repeated by several residents who live next to where the shooting occurred. At the Sharper Images barber shop on Union Boulevard where the shooting was a hot topic of conversation back in February, several men said nobody they know was ever questioned by police. The general consensus in the neighborhood seems to be that police didn't ask anybody anything about the shooting.

But the SLMPD denies that.

"Homicide advised that an area canvas was conducted after the incident occurred and all witnesses who reported to officers that they saw or heard the incident were interviewed," writes Freeman. "Investigators also went door to door in the area to determine if anyone else is the area may have witnessed the incident. If anyone knows of additional witnesses that have not spoken to investigators, they are urged to contact the Homicide Division at 444-5371."

Fields says he should have been talked to because he saw most of what happened.

"Police were running with their guns drawn and when they turned the corner, they just immediately started shooting," he says.

As for whether Averyhart pointed a gun -- Fields couldn't have seen that because he could only see up to the corner where the fence starts. But from years of knowing Averyhart, he says the idea sounds ridiculous.

"We are not those kinds of people and he most definitely was not," Fields says of Averyhart, who had a reputation of being something of a mild-mannered gearhead and worked as a mechanic.

"All Stephon did was fix cars, smoke some weed, and talk to women -- that's what he did," says a friend at the tire shop. "He didn't point a gun at the police. He was nonviolent."

But police did do some investigating in the days immediately after the shooting. What kind, exactly, is not certain.

Deonte, who did not give his last name, runs the tire shop near where Averyhart was killed. He says that police blocked off the area near the shooting and searched for about an hour each day for three days.

"They were looking for something," Deonte says. "I don't know what for -- they wouldn't tell us -- but they were looking hard for it."

Hill, who has done her own investigating and talked to several people in the neighborhood who saw the shooting, says she hopes the fallout from the Brown shooting in August will help lead to an investigation into the SLMPD's handling of her son's case.

"Police are always more believable than taxpayers like myself and it's wrong -- it's like they're on the other side of the law and whatever they do just gets swept under the rug," she says. "But here's an opportunity for that to be revealed now. The Michael Brown shooting really opened the door."

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E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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