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Friday, February 13, 2015

Mom Searches for Witnesses Who Saw SLMPD Shoot Stephon Averyhart

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 1:00 PM

click to enlarge Stacey Hill, the mother of Stephon Averyhart, handed out flyers Thursday in the area where her son was shot and killed by two St. Louis metro cops last year. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Danny Wicentowski
  • Stacey Hill, the mother of Stephon Averyhart, handed out flyers Thursday in the area where her son was shot and killed by two St. Louis metro cops last year.

After he died, there were no protests for Stephon Averyhart.

Shot by two St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers on February 12, 2014, the death of the 27-year-old mechanic made a slight blip on local news outlets, and those reports relied on a police press release to describe Averyhart's final moments -- how he fled a traffic stop, led police on a brief chase, crashed his blue 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix into a telephone pole, ran down an alley and was shot dead. The two officers who chased after Averyhart claimed he pointed a gun at them.

On Thursday, the one-year anniversary of his death, Averyhart's mother Stacey Hill and a handful of his friends gathered at a parking lot on the corner of West Florrisant Avenue and Union Boulevard, right across the street from the imposing sprawl of Calvary Cemetery. Hill chose the location intentionally, knowing that her son's friends still try to avoid area where Averyhart died, just a few blocks away.

"I went there the day they killed my son," says Hill, clutching a stack of flyers printed with Averyhart's face one side and information about the shooting on the back. "I don't have a problem going up there."

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

click to enlarge Stephon Averyhart. - FACEBOOK
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  • Stephon Averyhart.

Thursday's gathering wasn't so much a protest as it was a memorial for a man whose death continues to baffle those who were closest to him. Family and friends remember him as easygoing, goofy, fond of girls and driving fast. His rap sheet contained only traffic tickets (some of which became warrants) and a misdemeanor charge for marijuana.

"As a little boy he always wanted to mess with cars. Everything was about cars," says Hill. She manages to laugh while retelling the story of how he'd repaired a junked black Grand Prix whose engine had burst into flames.

"Even the day he was killed he was coming from working on someone's car," she says.

That someone was JaJuan Harris's brother. Harris, who wears a sweatshirt bearing his dead friend's photo and the words "See you on the other side," says Averyhart was supposed to stick around to play some cards after fixing the car, but Averyhart insisted that he couldn't stay and drove off. That was around noon. Three hours later, Harris heard the news about the shooting.

"Every one of us is thinking about him every single day," says Harris, who works as a bail-bondsman. He says he helped Averyhart pay down nearly 30 traffic tickets and watched his friend struggle to build a career as a mechanic. Now, Harris keeps Averyhart's obituary taped to a bedroom mirror.

"No one knows the answer what to do. I just really wish we could bring him back," he says.

Answers are generally hard to come by in police-involved shootings, and in this case the police narrative has left his family and friends questioning the investigation. Hill, Harris and a couple others spent an hour or so dropping flyers in mailboxes and questioning neighbors near the alley where police chased Averyhart. They hope to find more witnesses, but so far they've had no luck.

The SLMPD hasn't closed its case on Averyhart either, and a police spokesperson confirmed that the investigation is ongoing. Although the two officers involved in the shooting were returned to duty, their names remain redacted in a 31-page supplemental incident report that police didn't give Hill until December.

However, the supplemental report sheds some light on the police investigation, and it's only bolstered Hill's belief that police didn't try very hard to verify the officers' accounts of the shooting.

Continue to read new details on the investigation.

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