New St. Louis Prosecutor Wesley Bell Promptly Fires Attorney Who Oversaw Mike Brown Case

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The new St. Louis County prosecutor used his second day in office to terminate three assistant prosecutors, including two who had long held their positions. And one presented evidence in the Michael Brown grand jury case.

Wesley Bell terminated Kathi Alizadeh, a prosecutor who oversaw the 2014 police shooting case in the death of Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Jan. 2.

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As she packed her belongings up in her SUV Wednesday, Alizadeh said Bell gave her a two-page letter detailing why she lost the job she held for more than 30 years. Declining to speak about it further, she noted she would be getting in touch with her attorney. However, she told the local NBC station she was “unsure” about the grounds for her termination.

Alizadeh presented evidence to a grand jury in Brown’s case in which they declined to indict officer Darren Wilson. The cop had shot and killed 18-year-old Brown after the two engaged in a brief argument on the sidewalk. The officer fired upon Brown several times.

The incident led to protests erupting in the St. Louis suburb and during that time, prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch handled the investigation into the shooting. As demonstrations continued into 2015, Bell was elected councilman. By August 2018, Bell won a 57 percent to 43 percent victory in the Democratic primary over McCulloch to become the county’s new prosecutor.

After he was sworn in on Jan. 1, Bell held a 15-minute meeting the following morning and noted he made three changes, but he declined to elaborate. He only said, “we wish the three individuals well.” The Post-Dispatch discovered the changes were firings of three prosecutors and Alizadeh was one of them.

As for the other two prosecutors who were fired under Bell’s direction, they are 34-year veteran Ed McSweeney and Jennifer Coffin. While Coffin declined to comment, McSweeney said he was suspended until a termination hearing. The long-time prosecutor said his firing was because of an August Facebook post criticizing Bell.

“County voters will soon regret what they did. We are going to turn into another STL city,” he said on the social network at the time of Bell’s victory last year.

In response to Bell’s actions, the St. Louis Police Officers Association, which represents two of the assistant prosecutors, called for their reinstatement.

“Despite Mr. Bell’s rhetoric about building bridges with career prosecutors, he has apparently decided to suddenly discharge three dedicated public servants in his first hours in office,” read a statement from union president Ed Clark.

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