(KMOV.com) – St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson spoke to News 4 about the response of police to the demonstrations in Ferguson and the department’s handling of the officer involved shooting of a knife-wielding man in north St. Louis.
When tear gas was first used by police during demonstrations in Ferguson, Dotson criticized police tactics and pulled his department’s tactical team from Ferguson.
“We are in the process of doing a review,” Dotson said when asked if his officers used tear gas.
However, evidence suggests they did deploy tear gas. Both St. Louis County Police and the Missouri Highway Patrol (MHP) have said they did not use tear gas the first night it was used. Dotson was not in Ferguson during the first two nights of unrest. Dotson later provided a more definitive answer about tear gas usage.
“We did,” Dotson said. “No question in my mind at all, the city did use tear gas on the first night.”
Even though he criticized police tactics before MHP took over security, he defended his own officer’s use of tear gas before he temporarily removed them from Ferguson.
“Gunshots were being fired at officers, Molotov cocktails, gasoline bombs were being thrown at police officers. I don’t know who fired the first rounds,” Dotson said.
Following the police shooting of a man who was holding a knife, Dotson rushed to the scene to do interviews. He also provided additional details within 24 hours, something that was not done by Ferguson police after Brown’s shooting.
Some initial information that emerged from St. Louis Police was wrong, but Dotson says he quickly corrected it. State Senator Jamila Nasheed-D, St. Louis, who urged a federal investigation of the shooting, praised Dotson’s response to the shooting.