Kajieme Powell’s Last 14 Seconds. On Tuesday, Police in St. Louis responded to a call involving a man who had allegedly stolen two drinks and a doughnut from a store and was “acting erratically.” That man, Kajieme Powell, 25, was shot dead by police less than 15 seconds after they arrived on the scene.
A cellphone video recorded by a pedestrian and released by police reveals that several details of the encounter, as told to reporters on Tuesday by St. Louis Police Chief of Police Sam Dotson, didn’t happened.
Chief Dotson claimed that Powell approached officers with a knife in a “overhand grip” position. Powell has his arms at his side and never puts a knife in a “overhand grip” position. Chief Dotson claimed that Powell clutches “his waistband.” That doesn’t appear to happen in the video. Dotson told reporters that Powell “came within three or four feet of the officer,” who shot him. The distance would appear to be longer. The Chief claimed the officers did not exit the car with their guns drawn. The video shows they did.
“When the suspect displayed his knife they drew their weapons,” Dotson specifically told reporters on Tuesday. The video reveals officers drew their weapons as they exited the car. This is an important point because police officers are not to use deadly force unless their life (or that of another) is in danger. Exiting their vehicle with guns in hand before seeing a knife indicates the officers escalated in the direction of deadly force without specific reason. Reportedly the police were informed by 911 that Powell had a weapon. Whether Powell had a knife in his had is difficult to confirm on the video but he appears to reach for something, with his back to the camera, early in the encounter.
Powell was shot 14 seconds after the officers got out of their car. At least nine shots are heard on the video. Powell falls off of a small embankment near the sidewalk and is shot by an officer as he lays on the ground.
On the video, Powell is heard to say “shoot me,” as he moves toward police but then backs away from them in a confused way. Powell also ignores officers commands to “drop the knife.” His last steps are toward the officer who shot him. He appears to be about eight to ten feet from the officer. Reports that Powell suffers from mental illness haven’t been confirmed.
Whether officers in St. Louis are issued tasers, mace or pepper spray, batons, bean bag guns or other non lethal weapons is unknown. The last St. Louis Police Officer to die in the line of duty was in 2011. Since 1836, 169 St. Louis Police Officers have died in the line of duty (four of whom were stabbed).
A video of Chief Dotson’s press conference Tuesday and the video of Powell being shot by police is below.