Thursday, March 31, 2016

Police Officer Shoots Knife-Wielding Driver in Central West End, Chief Says

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2016 at 3:37 PM

A St. Louis police officer shot a man with a knife following a traffic stop, authorities say. - RIVERFRONT TIMES
  • Riverfront Times
  • A St. Louis police officer shot a man with a knife following a traffic stop, authorities say.

A man who was ticked off about a traffic stop in the Central West End was shot during a struggle with a police officer, authorities say.

The 22-year-old, who is now in critical condition, was trying to open a folding knife when the officer shot him once in the upper chest, police Chief Sam Dotson said Thursday at a news conference.

Investigators are still interviewing witnesses and searching for any video of the confrontation, but Dotson said they’ve been able to piece together what happened based on the officer’s statements and a radio call recorded in the lead-up to the shooting.

The officer stopped the man, whose name wasn’t released, shortly before noon after watching him run a red light at Kingshighway Boulevard and McPherson Avenue. The driver pulled over about six blocks away near Maryland Avenue, and a sergeant on a bicycle rode up to assist, Dotson said.

The first officer, a 27-year veteran, wrote the driver tickets for running the light and for improper license plates. The man was angry, but he drove off, and the officer went back to McPherson to finish up some paperwork, Dotson said. While he was sitting there, the gold Nissan pulled in behind him. The man walked up to the patrol car and began yelling at the officer, some of which was recorded when the cop flipped on his radio’s mic, according to the chief.

“You can hear the individual yelling at the police officer, ‘Why did you give me the tickets? I’m going to have your job.’ Those sorts of things,” Dotson said.

The officer eventually told the driver he was under arrest, and the man bolted back to his car. The cop and driver grappled in the Nissan, and the man reached into his glove box with his right hand while he gripped the officer’s shirt in his left.

“The individual pulls out a knife,” Dotson said. “I would describe it as a hunting knife, a camping knife that’s folded.”

The knife was closed, and the driver tried to flip it open while they struggled, jabbing the handle several times into the officer’s chest, Dotson said. The officer pulled out his gun and shot him once.

A dispatcher, who could hear the confrontation, had already called for backup. The officer asked for an ambulance as well, and the man was rushed to the hospital. He was in surgery on Thursday afternoon, Dotson said. Investigators reportedly found the knife sitting on the car seat.

The shooting is under investigation. The patrol car didn’t have a dash cam, and Dotson said it wouldn’t have helped anyway, because the struggle happened behind the cruiser in the Nissan.

Update 4:38 p.m.: St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce says her investigators are conducting a parallel inquiry, which is standard procedure for police-involved shootings in the city. Investigators from the prosecutor's office were at the scene and at police headquarters on Thursday, she says.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.


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