St. Louis Police Shootings Up as Crime Rises

Officers have fatally shot eight people this year, the highest number in the past decade, with more than three months left in the year. Criminologist David Klinger of the University of Missouri-St. Louis said, “As crime rates go up and down, so do police shootings.”

Amid a sixth day of protest after a police officer was found not guilty of murder in a 2011 fatal shooting, family and friends of another man killed by police gathered outside St. Louis’ City Hall on Wednesday. On what would have been Isaiah “Vinny” Hammett’s 22nd birthday, they served birthday cake and tried to draw attention to what they believe was his murder by police, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Hammett was one of eight people St. Louis police have fatally shot so far this year. It is the highest number of fatal police shootings by city police in the past decade, with more than three months left in the year. There were five people killed by St. Louis police in all of 2016. In addition to those killed, police have shot and wounded seven other people this year. Police say all of those killed by officers were armed. One of them stabbed an officer before being fatally shot.

The remaining seven pointed a gun at officers before they were killed, police said. Three of those, including Hammett, fired at officers before they were fatally shot, according to police. Hammett’s family does not believe the police when they say he fired at officers with an AK-47 when they entered his grandfather’s home to serve a search warrant. The fact that police shootings are up is well known among the ranks, said Lt. Col. Rochelle Jones. As a result, officers have been on heightened alert to wait for backup instead of approaching a potentially dangerous situation alone. They are undergoing training on how to better communicate in stressful situations. Jones attributed the rise in police shootings to the rise in violent crime. She noted aggravated assaults are up 5.6 percent this year compared to last, and aggravated assaults with guns are up 16 percent. Criminologist David Klinger of the University of Missouri-St. Louis said, “As crime rates go up and down, so do police shootings.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

GA Officer In Shooting Lacked Crisis Intervention Training

The Georgia Tech police officer who shot and killed a student was on duty for one year and had not received crisis intervention training, which provides officers insight on those suffering behavioral health issues.

The Georgia Tech police officer who shot and killed a student was on duty for one year and had not received crisis intervention training, the New York Daily News reports. Tyler Beck, identified in a Georgia Bureau of Investigation statement as the officer who shot Scout Schultz, joined the Georgia Tech Police Department in May 2016 after serving on the department’s Community Outreach and Engagement unit. He participated in 492 hours of training in 2016 and 64 hours of training in 2017, for such topics as “firearms …& use of deadly force,” “campus law enforcement training,” and “crisis management.” He was not given crisis intervention training, which provides officers insight on dealing with those suffering from behavioral health issues.

Beck shot Schultz once in the chest, and the 21-year-old student died at a nearby hospital. Authorities released audio of Schultz’s 911 call in which he escribed a person who “looks like he’s got a knife in his hand … I think he might have a gun on his hip.” “Looks like he might be drunk or something,” Schultz said. “He has long, blond hair, white T-shirt, jeans.” As fellow students watched from their dorm rooms, police surrounded Schultz near a campus parking deck.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Violent Protests After GA Student is Killed by Police

Anger over the police shooting of a Pride Alliance leader at Georgia Tech turned violent Monday night, as protesters who had attended a vigil on the campus set a police car ablaze.

Anger over the police shooting of a Pride Alliance leader at Georgia Tech turned violent Monday night, as protesters who had attended a vigil on the campus set a police car ablaze, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Two police officers received minor injuries. Three people were arrested and charged with inciting a riot and battery of an officer. It was not immediately clear if they were students at Tech. The parents of Scout Schultz, who was killed by police, released a statement calling for calm. “We ask that those who wish to protest Scout’s death do so peacefully. Answering violence with violence is not the answer,” they said.

The evening began with a peaceful vigil to remember Scout Schultz, a 21-year-old engineering student who was gunned down by campus police late Saturday night. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is probing the case. Monday night, Georgia Tech tweeted that students should “shelter in place” due to “violent protests on campus.” Officers from the Atlanta Police and nearby Georgia State University were called in to to assist Georgia Tech police.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Violent St. Louis Protests Over Officer Acquittal

For the second consecutive night, peaceful daytime protests over the acquittal of a white former police officere in the shooting death of a black suspect descended into late-night violence in the St. Louis area with broken windows and thrown rocks.

For the second consecutive night, peaceful daytime protests descended into late-night violence with broken windows and thrown rocks, water bottles and garbage can lids following Friday’s acquittal of a white former police officer in the shooting death of a black suspect, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday, a small group of protesters threw chunks of concrete at police and broke windows at numerous businesses in the Delmar Loop area of University City, which adjoins St. Louis. A chair was thrown through the window of a Starbucks. One protester was seen hitting a police SUV with a hammer. Police made more than a half-dozen arrests witnessed by reporters, including a protester who was carried away by officers by his arms and legs.

As the chaos escalated, scores of police officers in riot gear pushed forward against the demonstrators, about two hours after daytime protest organizers had congratulated their followers on keeping their demonstrations peaceful. By 11:30, about 200 police officers had pushed most of the protesters out of the area and the violence and vandalism appeared to be dissipating. The sidewalks along the vibrant area of restaurants and shops were strewn with glass from broken windows.  Earlier in the day, hundreds of protesters marched through the Delmar Loop near nightfall Saturday, as St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson appealed to residents for calm going into the second night of protests. “These are not the images we want to see of our city,” Krewson said, referring to violence in the city’s Central West End the night before that included damage to her house. “We have some work to do here.” Cori Bush, a social worker and activist who is running for Congress, helped lead the marchers early Saturday evening. “The message is simple: stop killing us,” she said. “Black folks say, stop killing us.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Acquitted MO Cop: ‘Everyone Wants Someone to Blame’

“I’m just not the guy [to blame],” former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He said he understood that the video of the shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith looked bad to investigators and the public. “Every resisting (arrest) looks bad, it never looks good,” Stockley said. “But you have to separate the optics from the facts.”

“It feels like a burden has been lifted, but the burden of having to kill someone never really lifts,” former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who was acquitted Friday or murder, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The taking of someone’s life is the most significant thing one can do, and it’s not done lightly. … My main concern now is for the first responders, the people just trying to go to work and the protesters. I don’t want anyone to be hurt in any way over this.” Stockley, 36, who lives in Houston, was charged last year with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, in 2011.

The chase began after Stockley and his partner, Brian Bianchi, tried to arrest Smith for a suspected drug deal. After St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson filed his ruling Friday, Protests soon erupted in downtown St. Louis. “I can feel for and I understand what the family is going through, and I know everyone wants someone to blame, but I’m just not the guy,” Stockley said. He said he understood that the video of the shooting looked bad to investigators and the public. “Every resisting (arrest) looks bad, it never looks good,” Stockley said. “But you have to separate the optics from the facts.” The judge focused on the 15 seconds between the time Stockley left his police car and then unholstered his weapon and fired at Smith as proof that he did not execute him. Tears welled in the former police officer’s eyes when asked why he had agreed to be interviewed. “Because I did nothing wrong. If you’re telling the truth and you’ve been wrongly accused, you should shout it from a mountaintop.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

St. Louis Braces for Verdict in Police Shooting Trial

Judge Timothy Wilson is expected to announce his verdict on Friday. Wilson presided over a bench trial that ended Aug. 9 concerning the controversial 2011 police shooting of a black motorist by a white officer.

With courthouse barricades up, police presence expanded and National Guard troops on standby, St. Louis is braced for Friday’s anticipated verdict in the murder trial of a white police officer accused of executing a black motorist, reports the Post-Dispatch. Former St. Louis police Officer Jason Stockley maintains the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith was in self-defense. If he is acquitted of a first-degree murder charge, officials fear the inevitable protests could turn violent. Some activists have hinted as much. Christina Wilson, Smith’s fiancée, appeared at a news conference with Gov. Eric Greitens Thursday evening to ask protesters to avoid violence if they demonstrate. “However it goes, I ask for peace,” Wilson said.

Greitens has called on the Missouri National Guard to protect both protesters and property. Barricades went up Thursday around the U.S. Courthouse downtown, which was ordered closed on Friday, and police were being moved to 12-hour shifts Friday. Stockley fatally shot Smith after a police chase on Dec. 20, 2011. Prosecutors have alleged Stockley planted a .38-caliber revolver in Smith’s crashed Buick after shooting him five times at close range. The defense has said Stockley shot Smith in self-defense because Stockley believed Smith was reaching for a gun. The bench trial before St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson ended Aug. 9. Some St. Louis black clergy and activists have pledged “mass disruption” if Stockley is acquitted. The verdict is widely expected to be announced on Friday.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Little Progress Seen Year After Charlotte Police Shooting

The fatal police shooting of Keith Scott got national attention a year ago in Charlotte. “I think we’re the same as we were,” said Willie Ratchford of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee. “I think we are still at a point in this community where the very thing that happened after that shooting can happen again.”

Not much is different in Charlotte nearly a year after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and the nationally televised street protests that followed. That was the majority view Wednesday night of a six-person panel representing community organizers, scholars, activists, the city of Charlotte, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the Charlotte Observer reports. “I think we’re the same as we were,” said Willie Ratchford of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee. “I think we are still at a point in this community where the very thing that happened after that shooting can happen again.” Systemic racism, a lack of trust of the police department and the plight of residents struggling with poverty were among the issues panelists identified as needing much greater and more urgent attention.

“We’ve got to do some more work around trust … around understanding … and around vision and planning,” said Susan McCarter of the social work faculty at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. She said some agencies and institutions in the city are reluctant to study their own data for fear that it will show discrimination. Assistant police chief Vicki Foster said police have worked hard since last year to improve transparency, reach out to at-risk young people and train officers against bias that could affect their work on the job. Still, she said, “we’re at a place where, whatever we do, it’s not going to be enough. … I’m not here to say we’ve done everything, but we’ve done a lot.” Ash Williams, an organizer with Charlotte Uprising, which has been in the forefront in protesting police shootings, argued that the city has not come very far in the last 51 weeks, citing statements of people like Scott’s widow and people whose family members were shot by Charlotte police this year.

from https://thecrimereport.org

When Will NYPD Release Police Body Cam Footage?

The first fatal New York Police Department shooting captured by body cameras raised questions about how the department will handle the recordings. Vague policies regarding the fledgling program were released in April. The police department sidestepped the issue of whether or not it will make footage public, something many other law enforcement agencies do.

The first fatal New York Police Department shooting captured by body cameras raised questions about how the department will handle the recordings, reports the New York Daily News. Vague policies regarding the fledgling program, initiated in an effort to foster transparency, were released in April. The outline sidestepped the issue of whether or not the police department will make footage public, something many other law enforcement agencies do. Four camera-strapped cops were in the tight quarters of a Bronx studio apartment on Wednesday when Miguel Richards was killed with a knife in hand.

Police say the 31-year-old aimed a toy gun at the officers before they fired 16 shots. Requests for the video were rebuffed, as the NYPD and the city have yet to define how they will address the thorny issue as they expand their program. “Our colleagues in government have to look at this, too, including the district attorney, before we can determine how to handle that footage,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. The inclination, police officials said, is to define when they would release images as narrowly as possible, so as not to interfere in post-shooting investigations. Advocates argue such a policy would fly in the face of the court order that led the department to adopt the technology in the first place. Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union believes body cam videos should automatically be made available to the public — with redactions to protect privacy interests. “In the case of police shootings, it is particularly important for the public to see video footage, as police officials all too often provide incomplete or distorted accounts,” he said.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Questions Remain in Milwaukee Police Shootings

Within three days, officers killed a man who was trying to disperse a rowdy crowd, and shot a man on a garage rooftop under unclear circumstances. “People feel like the police are around to go to trouble and then they cause more,” said one witness.

To Hercules Brown Sr., the Milwaukee police seemed to come out of nowhere. Brown did not notice them as he tried to quell a rowdy group of people who had been cursing and screaming in the Milwaukee neighborhood where he’s lived for 46 years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. He saw his grandson step out of their house and fire shots in the air, trying to disperse the crowd. Officers suddenly appeared and shouted at his grandson. “He put his hands down to the side, still holding the gun, and he froze like a rock,” Brown said. Brown heard several gunshots and his 37-year-old grandson was dead.

That was Sunday night. Three days earlier, Milwaukee police officers shot a man on a garage rooftop, seriously injuring him and sending him to the hospital. “People feel like the police are around to go to trouble and then they cause more,” said Destiny Colvin, who witnessed the first shooting and recorded it on Facebook live. Although the exact circumstances of each shooting remain unclear, in general, police officers are authorized to use deadly force if they reasonably believe someone poses a threat to officers or to the public. In the Thursday case, officers received a call of a “subject with a gun” and saw a man matching that armed person’s description, authorities said. The man ran from police and ended up on a garage rooftop, where the confrontation occurred with two officers. The department has yet to say whether the man was armed or whether a weapon was recovered at the scene. A police spokesman also would not say if the shooting was captured on police body-worn cameras and declined to clarify if both officers, or just one, fired shots.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Milwaukee Police Kill Man Firing Warning Shots

Police kill a legally blind man whose relatives say he was trying to break up a fight in front of his house. It was the second shooting by Milwaukee officers in less than a week.

Relatives of Antwon Springer, a man shot and killed by Milwaukee police Sunday night, say he fired warning shots in the air to break up a large fight that had broken out in front of his house. Springer, 37, whose nickname was “Blind Mack,” “shot the gun up in the air to break it (the large fight) up. He didn’t mean no harm,” said a relative. Springer was legally blind after having lost sight in one eye from diabetes, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. 

Two Milwaukee police officers were placed on administrative duty after the shooting. Officers were sent to the site after a report of a large fight in the street with armed suspects. When they arrived, officers saw a man armed with a handgun outside the home. It said the man fired the gun before officers approached him. “During the ensuing confrontation, the officers fired shots striking the suspect,” it said. The officers involved are a 24-year-old man with 2½ years of experience and a 26-year-old man with five years of experience. Byron Henderson, a cousin of Springer, said Springer had been on disability  due to worsening health. “He was not a troublemaker,” Henderson said. Springer was armed to protect himself from trouble in the neighborhood, he said. Sunday’s shooting was the second involving Milwaukee police officers in less than a week and at least the third this year.

from https://thecrimereport.org