While much of the St. Louis-area is up in arms over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, footage recovered of the fatal police shooting of Kajieme Powell on Tuesday may add fuel to the fire.
Video taken on the cellphone of a bystander shows St. Louis metropolitan police firing 12 shots at Powell, who was brandishing a knife and approaching the officers while yelling, “shoot me, shoot me, shoot me now,” shortly before he was gunned down.
One witness believed that the deadly force was excessive, suggesting police should have tried non-lethal means to subdue the 25-year-old who was “behaving erratically,” according to reports.
“I think it was excessive,” witness Doris Davis told the Guardian. “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.”
“I couldn’t believe my eyes, I have seen anything like that. I’ve never seen anyone get shot,” she added.
Police recovered the knife from the scene. Powell was believed to have robbed a nearby store, stealing energy drinks and doughnuts, before the incident.
Meanwhile, officials defended the use of force and believe that the video proves that it was appropriate given that Powell was armed. They also hope that it will help rebuild the trust between law enforcement and the community.
“I don’t think any of us can deny that the tension not only in St Louis but around the county and the world because of the activities in Ferguson over the last 10 or 12 days certainly has led to us making sure that we got this right and answered as many questions as we could as quickly as we can,” said St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson of the Powell shooting.