An officer-involved shooting at a St. Louis, Mo. Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant ended with the responding officer fatally shooting a robbery suspect.
At approximately 6:00 p.m. Sunday, an eyewitness reported a robbery-in-progress at a KFC.
While the bystander was on the phone with police dispatch, they were able to contact a police officer, in person, who was monitoring a Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. march, across the street from the KFC. The officer who was contacted is identified as a sergeant with 13 years of service as a St. Louis police officer.
In an initial statement after the shooting occurred, Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department reported as the officer approached the KFC window, the suspect identified as 52-year-old Crayton “Big West” West by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, raised a handgun at the officer. As the officer approached the restaurant door, he ordered the suspect to drop the weapon. Once the suspect refused to drop the weapon the officer fired twice, striking him with both shots.
Attorney Brian Millikan, who is representing the officer involved, who has not yet been identified, explained that the officer was in fear of his own life and acted in self-defense. Millikan added that if the officer had not reacted quicker the suspect would have shot him, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
“He didn’t have any choice,” Millikan said of the officer.
According to reports, West was pronounced dead at the scene. West’s record showed a repeated criminal history including robbery and sodomy charges. Cash from the robbery attempt and a gun were recovered at the scene. The officer was not injured.
This is just the latest story in a recent string of officer involved fatalities that has gained national attention. One of the most frequent arguments surrounding officer involved shootings is that more law enforcement officers need to be equipped with body cameras.
The St. Louis Police Department has been issued approximately 90 body cameras to staff. However, the officer involved in this shooting was not equipped with a body camera.
Officer O’Toole said there were several other eyewitnesses, along with surveillance camera footage from inside the restaurant that may be used in a pending investigation.
Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce will have to review all video evidence to determine whether it can be released publicly.
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