New video footage from a cell phone camera at the scene of a deadly shooting by two St. Louis Metropolitan police officers two days ago strongly betrays the depiction of the killing given by the department in the aftermath of the incident.
Kajieme Powell, a 25-year-old black man was shot and killed by police on Tuesday just miles from where ongoing street protests in response to the August 9th killing of a black unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, have garnered international attention. Following the death of Powell on Tuesday, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson claimed the shooting was justified because the man was brandishing a knife—"with an overhand grip" and making swiping motions—as he approached the two officers on the scene.
However, the new footage taken by a civilian bystander but released by the department late Wednesday shows that although Powell appeared agitated, his hands were at his sides and does not appear to be as close as stated when the officers opened fire with lethal force.
The following video contains the Chief Dotson's initial depiction of the shooting and then the new cell phone footage of the moments leading up to the shooting and the shooting itself. [Warning: Graphic content]:
An extended version of the cell phone video shows additional minutes that preceded the arrival of the police which shows, despite his agitation and yelling, that Williams is not threatening passersby or brandishing a weapon. [Warning: Graphic content]:
According to the Guardian:
The video will reinforce concerns raised by witnesses who asked why the police officers did not use Tasers or shoot Powell to wound rather than kill. Sam Dotson, the St Louis police chief, said the officers may not have been able to Taser Powell because of his sweatshirt. In the video the sweatshirt appears to be open.
On Tuesday a witness to the shooting, Doris Davis, said she did not believe the police needed to kill Powell. “I think it was excessive. People said he had a knife but if he had a knife they could have shot him in the foot. Or Tasered him. They didn’t have to kill him,” she said. “I couldn’t believe my eyes, I have seen anything like that. I’ve never seen anyone get shot.”
As the video makes clear, a mere twenty seconds went by from the time the officers arrived on the scene and shots were fired.
Journalist Tim Dickinson noted:
from the arrival of the police SUV, the killing of Kajieme Powell took 20 seconds flat, 3.5 seconds of which was shooting
— Tim Dickinson (@7im) August 21, 2014
Another journalist, the Huffington Post's Zach Carter, stated:
There is no way to reconcile the St. Louis police statement w/ this video. They just killed him. http://t.co/d8oIUgSOpo
— Zach Carter (@zachdcarter) August 21, 2014
Twitter user S. Dott Cathell responded with:
Another unarmed man shot and killed by St. Louis police officers. This is getting beyond crazy RIP #KajiemePowell
— S. Dott Cathell (@Mr_Cathell) August 21, 2014
The broader reaction on Twitter by community members and others was immediate with many expressing both sadness for Powell's brutal killing and anger at the St. Louis Metropolitan Polce Department who, despite the new evidence, continue to defend the actions of the officers: