The St. Louis police released shocking cellphone footage showing officers killing 25-year-old Kajieme Powell on Tuesday, after they claimed he was behaving “erratically” and approached them with a knife. The incident occurred less than four miles from the spot where police officer Darren Wilson killed 18-year-old Michael Brown nearly two weeks ago.
While St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson on Tuesday claimed that Powell, after taking “energy drinks and a package of pastries” from a convenience store, approached the two officers wielding the knife in an “overhead grip,” the video clearly shows the officers were lying.
Though Powell was obviously mentally unstable, wandering around the sidewalk mumbling to himself and then yelling, “Shoot me, kill me now” at the police officers, his hands were at his sides when the police opened fire and he was still not very close to them.
In fact, the video shows the officers killed the man within 15 seconds of arriving on the scene, a stunning display of police hair- trigger response. The officers tried no other options, did not try to talk Powell out of his aggression, or find another way to resolve the situation. Their response was simply to empty their guns into the body of a mentally unstable man who didn’t appear to pose much of a threat to them.
Shortly after the responding officers drove up in an SUV, they had a brief exchange with Powell and opened fire.
Dotson continued to defend the officers in a television appearance yesterday, telling CNN that he knew there were some discrepancies between his Tuesday account and what the video revealed. But he told CNN that although Powell’s hands were down by his sides, he was moving toward the officer with a knife.
“The officers did what I think you or I would do, they protected their life in that situation,” Dotson said.
“Certainly a Taser is an option that’s available to the officers, but Tasers aren’t 100 percent,” Dotson said. “So you’ve got an individual with a knife who’s moving towards you, not listening to any verbal commands, continues, says, ‘shoot me now, kill me now.’ Tasers aren’t 100 percent. If that Taser misses, that [individual] continues on and hurts an officer.”