Lawyer: Missouri cop thought she was firing stun gun
LADUE, Mo. (AP) — An attorney for a suburban St. Louis police officer who shot and wounded a suspected shoplifter says the officer thought she was firing her stun gun.
The attorney, Travis Noble, said the officer is “devastated” about last week’s shooting at a grocery store in Ladue, which he described as a “complete accident,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Authorities have not released the officer’s name.
The shooting happened after the officer encountered one of two women accused of trying to bypass the store’s self-checkout area with stolen merchandise. The woman apparently fell while fleeing and was complaining of injuries when the officer encountered her, Noble said. The officer then called for an ambulance before attempting to handcuff the woman. But Noble said the woman broke free and started running as the officer yelled for her to stop.
“The officer drew what she believed to be her Taser and screamed ‘Taser! Taser! Taser!’ and discharged what ended up being her weapon,” Noble said.
She fired her pistol once, and when the woman went down, she “realized her mistake and immediately rendered first aid,” Noble said.
The officer pulled her 9mm Glock from a holster on her right hip, Noble said. The Taser was holstered just inside her left hip.
“You’re talking about a police officer who for 13 years has never drawn her Taser ever,” Noble said. “She’s, like, literally running and you know how tunnel vision kicks in.”
Police say the 33-year-old woman is expected to survive but remains hospitalized. Her name hasn’t been released and she hasn’t been charged.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell said during his campaign that he would seek special prosecutors to review police shooting cases. His office has declined to comment on how this case will be handled.
There have been other instances in which officers mistook their firearms for a stun gun.
Lawrence, Kansas, police Officer Brindley Blood was charged with aggravated battery in 2018 after she shot Akira Lewis, 35, while Lewis was allegedly attacking another officer. But charges were dropped in March after a judge ruled that Blood meant to use her Taser and mistakenly drew her gun.
Lewis, who is black, survived but has said he has permanent injuries. He alleges he was racially profiled. Blood, who resigned in January, and the other officer are white.
In 2015, Robert Bates, a white volunteer deputy in Oklahoma, fatally shot an unarmed black man, Eric Harris, while Harris was on the ground being restrained by other deputies during an illegal gun sale sting. Bates said he mistakenly pulled his handgun instead of his stun gun.
Bates was convicted of second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to four years in prison but served less than half that before being paroled.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com