ST. LOUIS, MO. (KPLR) – There is an uproar among law enforcement in St. Louis after a man convicted of opening fire on two city officers gets what most feel is a very soft sentence. Ronnell Hood will go to prison, but for only a fifth of the time prosecutors had hoped.
It was October 30, 2010 when police responded to a call of shots fired in north St. Louis. They found Hood and another man firing assault rifles into the air. When police identified themselves, the two men turned the guns on the officers. In the eyes of St. Louis Police Officers’ Association president Jeff Roorda, it was a vicious attack.
“They decided they wanted to kill a cop that night. And they just weren’t a good enough shot and that’s why we don’t have a worse ending to the story. But their intent that night was to kill a cop and they should be punished adequately.”
Hood was scheduled to go to trial Monday, but decided to plead guilty. By doing that, it put the whole thing in the hands of Circuit Judge Calea Stovall-Reid. Prosecutor Jennifer Szczucinski asked Stovall-Reid to give Hood 20 years. The judge sentenced him to only four.
“He entered a blind plea,” Szczucinski said. “Sentencing was at the discression of the judge and we asked for what we asked for and the judge made her decision.”
And police could hardly believe it. Newly appointed police Chief Sam Dotson said the punishment definitely did not fit the crime.
“That is not the message we want to send to our officers,” Dotson said. “We were hoping for a much more severe outcome, a serious outcome. This didn’t send the right message to the community. The message has to be if you use a weapon, if you use an assault rifle, there will be consequences. That didn’t happen in this case.”
And the police officer’s association took it a step further, calling Stovall-Reid’s decision a “betrayal of public trust.”
“For criminals it sends a message that it’s open season on cops with lenient punishment,” Roorda said.
We attempted to contact Judge Stovall-Reid, but we were unable to reach her for comment Monday night.