Family of man fatally shot by St. Louis police files wrongful-death suit

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ST. LOUIS — The family of a man who was wielding a knife when he was killed by St. Louis police in August has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Attorney Jermaine Wooten said Friday that the lawsuit filed in St. Louis Circuit Court seeks in excess of $25,000 in damages for the death of Kajieme Powell, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1zosk2g) reported.

Powell's mother, Karen Powell, alleges in the complaint that officers used unreasonable force in violation of the rights of her son. The 25-year-old man was fatally shot as officers responded to a report that two soft drinks and a doughnut had been stolen from a convenience store. The shooting took place several miles from a continuing string of nightly protests and rioting in Ferguson triggered by the fatal police shooting there of Michael Brown, 18.

The lawsuit over Kajieme Powell's death alleges that he was "pacing on the sidewalk and posed no threat to anyone" when officers pointed their guns and "started yelling forceful commands."

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson initially told reporters that Powell was holding a knife high and came within two or three feet of the officers, but revised the account when cellphone video showed no knife held up and Powell shot at apparently greater range. On the video, Powell was seen approaching an officer and shouting, "Shoot me! Kill me now!"

Dotson has said he had been trying to relay the best information available early in the investigation. He has said that by policy, police are allowed to shoot someone threatening them with a knife at up to 21 feet.

A police investigation report on Powell's death is expected to be finished this month. Police spokeswoman Schron Jackson said in an email Saturday to The Associated Press that the department didn't comment on pending litigation.

Wooten said in a prepared statement that Powell was black and the officers were white, but he noted: "This case is not about race; it's about how we police in this city. And that must change."


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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