Update: Aug. 21, 2014, 11:00 a.m.
The recently released cell phone footage reof the fatal police shooting of Kajieme Powell seems to undermine the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s initial story.
On Tuesday, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said at a press conference that the officers on the scene opened fire on Powell, 25, after he reached within three to four feet of them while holding a knife in "an overhead grip.”
However, as seen in the video, which emerged on Wednesday, Powell’s arms remained at his sides as he approached the officers. Whether he came within three to four feet of them is also questionable.
During a follow-up interview with CNN, Dotson acknowledged the discrepancies between his previous statement and the video, but still defended the officers’ use of lethal force.
"So you've got an individual armed 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%. If that Taser misses, that subject continues on, and hurts an officer," he said.
According to witnesses, the man, 23, had allegedly taken items from the market without paying. St. Louis Alderman Dionne Flowers, who works at a neighboring beauty shop, witnessed the incident and reportedly told local Police Chief Sam Dotson that the man was "acting erratically, pacing back and forth in the street” and "talking to himself.”
Two police officers arrived on the scene, responding to several 911 calls made by local employees. Dotson claimed that the man ignored the officers’ instructions to get down, became more agitated and approached the officers while reaching for his waistband.
"Shoot me, kill me now,” the man told the police, according to witnesses.
The man pulled out a knife and held it high as he continued approaching the officers and ignoring orders to stop and drop the knife, Dotson said. The officers fatally shot the man when he allegedly got within three or four feet of them.
“This is a lethal range for a knife,” Dotson said, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The officers did not suffer any injuries and have been put on administrative duty per department policy during the investigation.
The crowd of approximately 200 people that gathered at the scene of the shooting reportedly fluctuated from peaceful to rowdy, chanting the “Hands up, don’t shoot” refrain made well-known at Ferguson protests. Witnesses of the shooting of Michael Brown say the unarmed 18-year-old said this to an officer before he was fatally shot in Ferguson on Aug. 9.
"We want to make sure this is handled in a transparent way,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said in an interview on Tuesday. "We are very aware of the high emotion.”
Slay also said that officials have been in touch with the U.S. Attorney’s office and clergy leaders, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
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(Photo: Jonathan Fickies/Getty Images)
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