St. Louis police identify the black male shot dead by cops only miles from Ferguson
By RYAN GORMAN
St. Louis police have identified the African-American man fatally shot only miles from where unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was killed only 11 days ago by a white officer.
Kajieme Powell, 25, is said by police to have stolen energy drinks and pastries from a convenience store on the city's north side before pacing back and forth on a nearby sidewalk while holding a knife. He died only minutes later.
Powell aggressively approached responding police brandishing the knife and repeatedly shouted "shoot me now," St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson said as he recounted what witnesses told investigators shortly after the disturbing lunchtime incident.
The ordeal began when Powell entered a convenience store and took energy drinks and pastries, said Dotson. The owner followed him out, asked him to pay and then saw Powell toss the pastries into the street. Police arrived a short while later.
A St. Louis city alderman was among those who witnessed the man's erratic behavior and spoke with cops as they arrived.
Two officers approached Powell, drew their weapons and shouted verbal commands for Powell to stand down, Dotson said. They only opened fire to defend themselves only when he was within lethal range.
A large crowd soon gathered and began shouting derisive comments as a Tuesday afternoon press conference unfolded only minutes after the shooting. They were mostly peaceful and disbanded around 1:00 a.m., according to KSDK.
Dotson said tasers were not used because a suspect aggressively brandishing a knife only three or four feet from police is considered lethal range.
Dotson said he does not believe there to be any surveillance footage of the man wielding the knife or shouting at police, and asked any witnesses who may have captured pictures or cell phone video of the incident to come forward.
"Our policy is at the end of the day, the officer should be able to go home," Dotson told the gathered crowd. "If a person is charging you with a knife, that's a lethal range."
Dotson responded to questions of whether the incident was an officer-assisted suicide by saying the investigation is ongoing. He also declined to comment on reports the suspect was mentally challenged.
Protesters could be heard shouting at Dotson: "Why did they gun him down?"
They also chanted: "Hands up! Don't shoot!" A refrain started among those protesting Brown's shooting death in nearby Ferguson.
"The last thing we need is violence in our neighborhood... no silliness over here," St. Louis city alderman Antonio French pleaded with the angry crowd. "You ain't alone like they are in Ferguson."
The shooting happened on the city's north side just miles from where Brown, whose funeral is set for Monday, was shot dead August 9 by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson.
The large crowd gathered within minutes of the gunfire and already began drawing comparisons to the Brown incident. Several dozen locals congregated on the sidewalk and across the street.
The officers have been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation.
Timeline: Michael Brown's death and the chaos that has gripped Ferguson since
Police distrust still prevalent years later
National Guard arrive in Ferguson