St. Louis po­lice chief de­fends fa­tal shoot­ing of black man by of­fi­cers


The St. Louis po­lice chief on Thurs­day un­apolo­get­i­cally de­fended the fa­tal shoot­ing of a black 18-year-old who was killed by two white of­fi­cers in a con­fronta­tion that drew protesters and un­rest back to the streets.

Protesters pledged to stand firm. Said the di­rec­tor of a group called the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Black Strug­gle: “We will not go away.”

Mansur Ball-Bey, who po­lice said had a hand­gun, was shot as of­fi­cers raided a home in a vi­o­lence-plagued part of north St. Louis. Within an hour of Wed­nes­day’s shoot­ing, more than 100 peo­ple con­verged on the scene, taunt­ing of­fi­cers and de­cry­ing the use of deadly force.

A va­cant build­ing and at least one car were torched, po­lice said. Of­fi­cers re­sponded with tear gas and ar­rested at least nine peo­ple on charges of im­ped­ing traf­fic and re­sist­ing ar­rest.

Dot­son said that crowd-con­trol tac­tics were jus­ti­fied be­cause of­fi­cers were be­ing hit with bot­tles and bricks and protesters re­fused to clear out of the road­way.

The scene un­folded less than two weeks af­ter vi­o­lence marred the an­niver­sary of the day Michael Brown was fa­tally wounded by a white of­fi­cer in nearby Fer­gu­son. His death launched the na­tional Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment.

The latest shoot­ing hap­pened while of­fi­cers were serv­ing a search war­rant. They en­coun­tered Ball-Bey and another sus­pect run­ning from the home, po­lice said.

Ball-Bey turned and pointed a hand­gun at the of­fi­cers, who shot him, author­i­ties said. He died at the scene.

The hand­gun found in the dead man’s pos­ses­sion had one round in the cham­ber and 13 more in the mag­a­zine, Po­lice Chief Sam Dot­son said.

Some protesters ques­tioned the po­lice claim that the sus­pect was armed. Dis­trust of po­lice ac­counts has been com­mon since Brown’s death.

On the night of Brown’s an­niver­sary, 18- year- old Ty­rone Harris Jr. was wounded by plain­clothes of­fi­cers in Fer­gu­son when he al­legedly first fired at them. His fa­ther la­beled that ac­count “a bunch of lies” and in­sisted his son was un­armed.

Later, po­lice re­leased sur­veil­lance video recorded mo­ments be­fore the shoot­ing that ap­peared to show the younger Harris pulling a hand­gun from his waist­band and run­ning in the di­rec­tion of the of­fi­cers.

“I un­der­stand peo­ple’s skep­ti­cism,” Dot­son said Thurs­day. “But don’t let so­cial media and in­nu­endo drive what you be­lieve to be true. You have to let the facts speak.”

Mayor Fran­cis Slay pledged an “in­de­pen­dent and trans­par­ent” in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the shoot­ing but stood be­hind po­lice.

“The po­lice were in this neigh­bor­hood do­ing their job,” Slay said at a meet­ing with the St. Louis Clergy Coali­tion, a group of black min­is­ters. The meet­ing was at a church about a block from the shoot­ing site.

The po­lice chief and mayor said protesters should have their voices heard, but they dif­fer­en­ti­ated be­tween those who gather to protest and oth­ers who cre­ate mis­chief.

The scene of Wed­nes­day’s shoot­ing — known as the Foun­tain Park neigh­bor­hood — is a his­tor­i­cally high-crime area that has seen an uptick in vi­o­lence, with 127 con­firmed homi­cides this year. There were 159 homi­cides in all of 2014 and 120 the year be­fore that.

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