Second St. Louis area police shooting highlights unrestrained police violence in the US
On Wednesday, St. Louis police released a video showing the killing of 25-year-old Kajieme Powell a day earlier. The killing of Powell came just ten days after the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, which sparked mass protests in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri.
The video shows Powell behaving erratically after he reportedly took two energy drinks and a pastry from a nearby store. None of the handful of bystanders seem threatened by Powell.
Two police officers arrive on the scene, guns drawn. Within 20 seconds Powell is dead, killed by a barrage of twelve bullets, fired by both officers, over a duration of three seconds.
The final two shots, fired by both officers, take place as Powell is already motionless on the ground. “Put your hands up!” yell the officers, and then handcuff him.
Residents had told the World Socialist Web Site that Powell was mentally handicapped and that his mother had died shortly before he was killed by the police.
“I think officer safety is the number one issue,” said St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, defending the officers’ actions, saying, “The officers did what I think you or I would do, they protected their life in that situation.” Dotson dismissed questions as to why officers did not use Tasers or other means to diffuse the situation short of deadly violence. The video contradicts Dotson’s claims that Powell rushed the officers with a knife in an “overhand” position, and was three to four feet away when he was shot. The video shows police started shooting when Powell was about nine feet away, based on measurements relative to the officers’ height, and that Powell had his hands down when he was shot. Neither of the officers has been disciplined.