ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Two white St. Louis police officers will not face charges for the 2014 shooting death of a 25-year-old black man who came toward them with a knife, the city prosecutor announced on Tuesday.
Kajieme Powell was shot by Nicholas Shelton, 32, and Ellis Brown, 27, after they were called to a disturbance at a convenience store on the city’s north side on Aug. 19. Powell’s family has said he suffered from mental illness, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The shooting drew national attention because it came 10 days after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer in suburban Ferguson, Missouri, a case that sparked nationwide protests.
The office of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said in a 28-page report that the shooting was a tragedy but not a crime.
After reviewing the facts, video, witness statements and physical and forensic evidence, prosecutors concluded that “a criminal violation against either officer could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the report said.
“We’re all disappointed. The family was expecting these officers to be charged,” an attorney for Powell’s family, Jermaine Wooten, said. “It appear(s) that Jennifer Joyce and her staff, as usual, rubber stamped the unlawful acts of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and allowed these police officers to recklessly kill this man and go uncharged.”
Wooten said a wrongful-death suit was filed months ago against the two officers involved in the shooting, the city of St. Louis, the Board of Police Commissioners and Chief Sam Dotson.
Powell’s fatal confrontation with police came after he stole drinks and a snack from a convenience store, according to the report. When a clerk came out to confront him, Powell threatened to kill him and when police arrived, he refused their orders to drop his knife, the report said.
Powell yelled at the officers to kill him and “advanced quickly” toward them with the knife and was shot, the report said.
Sam Dotson said he was confident the prosecutors’ conclusion “is the result of a comprehensive and thorough review of the incident and all of the facts and evidence presented.”
Reporting by Sue Britt; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Bill Trott