Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Autopsy Finds Suspect Shot in Back, St. Louis P.D. Says

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Autopsy Finds Suspect Shot in Back, St. Louis P.D. Says

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS - An autopsy showed that an 18-year-old who was shot and killed by an officer helping serve a search warrant in a violence-plagued neighborhood died from a single wound in the back, police said Friday. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson cautioned that the location of Mansur Ball-Bey's wound neither confirms nor disproves two officers' accounts that Ball-Bey pointed a gun at them before they shot at him Wednesday. Dotson said Thursday that a stolen handgun linked to Ball-Bey - with one round in the chamber and 13 more in the magazine - was found at the scene.

"Just because he was shot in the back doesn't mean he was running away, Dotson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "What I do know is that two officers were involved and fired shots, but I don't know exactly where they were standing yet and I won't know until I get their statements.

Authorities haven't said exactly where in the back Ball-Bay was shot. Police haven't released the full autopsy or toxicology tests yet, and have not explained why they don't yet have statements from the officers.

Dotson, unreachable Friday by The Associated Press, has pledged a thorough internal investigation by the police's year-old Force Investigation Unit. Without specifying how long that "transparent inquiry may take, police said its findings will be forwarded to St. Louis city and federal prosecutors for review.

"We have a policy that's strong, a process that's strong, he told the AP. "There's strong third-party review, and we want to make everything above reproach.

Messages left with the Ball-Bay family's attorney, Jermaine Wooten, were not immediately returned. Wooten has insisted to media outlets that Ball-Bay was not armed when killed.

The law gives police officers latitude to use deadly force when they feel physically endangered. The Supreme Court held in a 1989 case that the appropriateness of use of force by officers "must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than evaluated through 20/20 hindsight.

That standard is designed to take into account that police officers frequently must make split-second decisions during fast- evolving confrontations and should not be subject to overly harsh second-guessing. …

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