ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - The two St. Louis city police officers who shot and killed Kajieme Powell, 25, a mentally ill man who allegedly came at them armed with a knife, will not face criminal charges after an investigation by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney.
Powell was shot to death by the officers on August 19, 2014; ten days after the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
In the Powell case, police were called to a market in the 8700 block of Riverview Avenue after receiving 911 reports that Powell had stolen energy drinks and pastries from the store, and was acting erratically. Callers to 911 also said he had a knife.
Twenty-three seconds after police arrived and ordered Powell to drop the knife, they shot him 12 times as he came toward them.
The Circuit Attorney`s review of the fatal shooting began in February, after two internal police department investigations concluded there was no reason to file for criminal charges against the officers.
And now Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce says the investigation by her office has come to the same conclusion.
'We determined in this case there was no way you could prevail on criminal charges here, the evidence didn`t support it,' Joyce said. "The officers had a very strong self-defense claim in this case and criminal charges could not be brought.'
'We don`t speak as to training to police or any other issues, those are questions for the police department,' she said.
Shortly after Joyce met with the Powell family and their attorney to share the results of the investigation, they spoke to reporters from the courthouse steps.
'Where do I go from here? I go to church and I come home and I pray and in the end they`ll have to pay, the ones who uphold them,' said Mildred Powell, Kajieme`s grandmother.
The Circuit Attorney`s report includes a 3-D Spatial Analysis done by a private accident reconstruction company, which used a cell phone video and pictures of the shooting to conclude that:
Powell was walking toward the officers at a rate significantly above that of a typical pedestrian;
That Powell was approximately 15 feet away from officer 1 at the first audible shot; and that Powell continued another 10 feet after the first audible shot.
It also says Powell was just eight feet away from officer 1 when he stopped moving forward.
The analysis concludes that Powell could have made contact with officer 1 between about 1.2 to 2.4 seconds.
At the time of the shooting, Chief Dotson said police policy is that officers can shoot to kill someone posing a threat if they are with within 20 feet of the officers.
Dotson also issued a statement today that reads in part:
"Today, the circuit attorney's office concluded its review of the officer-involved shooting of Kajieme Powell. I am confident their conclusion is the result of a comprehensive and thorough review of the incident and all of the facts and evidence presented."
The Powell family attorney told reporters Kajieme had been diagnosed with manic depression and schizophrenia, but was not taking medication for those conditions.
The family contends the officers should have realized by his behavior that Powell was mentally ill. But the report points out only one of the two officers had been given special training on dealing with mentally ill suspects.
The Powell family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the police department, along with the Chief of Police and the officers involved in the shooting.