Family of fallen St. Louis City police officer waits patiently as accused killer changes plea to insanity

The family of Tamarris Bohannon says the long wait for a trial is frustrating, but they’re willing to be patient if it means seeing justice prevail.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:26 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Nearly two and a half years after Officer Tamarris Bohannon was shot and killed responding to a call in the Tower Grove South neighborhood, his family is still waiting for their day in court.

Bohannon, 29, had worked for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for more than three years when he was killed in August 2020. He left behind three children, his wife, his parents, three siblings and countless other family and friends.

“It’s been a very long road,” said Liz Bohannon, Tamarris’ mother. “Even now, I can’t believe it’s real.”

Bohannon is described as a mentor and leader by fellow officers, helping not only the younger officers on the force but also those in the community he served.

“I’ve talked to people in the Tower Grove South neighborhood and they knew him by name,” said Al Bohannon, Tamarris’ father. “To put a uniform on and run toward danger, that’s like an angel. Not everyone can do that.”

Bohannon’s accused killer, Thomas Kinworthy, remained holed up in a home for more than 12 hours after the shooting before he was taken into custody. He is charged with first-degree murder with numerous other charges. Attorneys entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf in the fall of 2020.

Now, more than two years later, he’s changing his plea to not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. At a hearing earlier this month, a judge asked prosecutors to conduct their own psych evaluation of Kinworthy and present the findings in a hearing early next year.

“Hopefully, things will go in our favor and this can go to trial,” said Liz Bohannon. “I believe he will be found guilty of what he’s done and will get the sentence he deserves.”

The change in plea will likely bring further delays, but Liz Bohannon said she was told from the beginning there would be delays because of the pandemic.

“It’s frustrating, sure, but in my opinion, I would rather it be done correctly and done once so we don’t have to go through anything again,” she said.

Family gatherings, holidays, birthdays and anniversaries look different in the wake of Bohannon’s passing, something his parents and sister Tiffany said they are slowly adjusting to.

“It gets different after time, I’m not going to say better or easier, it’s different,” his mother said. “You can start to have memories or thoughts about Tamarris and smile.”

The family is getting ready to welcome another grandchild, with daughter Tiffany due in February.

“It’s a girl and she’s due around Tamarris’ birthday,” Tiffany Bautista said. “That’s so special to me. I’m going to teach her everything about her uncle and make sure she knows her uncle is a hero.”

Bautista gave birth to her first child, a boy, on the day her brother was shot. She was in the hospital when she started having complications around 7 p.m. on August 29, around the same time Bohannon was shot.

“I don’t know the exact timeline of Tamarris, but it felt like there was a correlation,” she said. “Something came on the news, they weren’t releasing his name, but I said something like, I really hope that’s not my brother and it turned out to be my brother.”

She gave birth to a healthy baby boy and her parents were left to deliver the devastating news the next day.

“I was able to get special release so I could get to the hospital to see Tamarris,” she said. “My son is starting to point to his picture and is very curious and I can’t wait to tell him all about his uncle.”

As they patiently wait for a trial date, the family said they’ll never be ready to confront the tragic details of that fateful day. But, they have each other.

“I can’t say we really understand God’s plan, but I do believe that God needed him,” said Al Bohannon. “I think that’s very special to be chosen even though he has been taken away from us.”

A highway memorial sign was installed along I-44 near Hampton Avenue earlier this fall in honor of Bohannon.