SLMPD says it’s in the dark on officer-involved shooting investigations from circuit attorney

St. Louis police tell News 4 they have heard silence from the prosecutor’s office on one of their key jobs.
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 10:16 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - St. Louis police tell News 4 they have heard silence from the prosecutor’s office on one of their key jobs: determining if cops should be charged after officer-involved shootings.

In an interview with a social media host, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said one of the reasons she’s under attack from the Missouri Attorney General’s office is because of her power to review officer-involved shooting cases.

The Circuit Attorney’s Office(CAO) is in charge of reviewing officer-involved shooting cases after the police are done investigating them. But police tell News 4 Gardner’s office isn’t communicating with them about the outcomes of those cases.

In an email this week, the department says since 2018, they have handled 59 officer-involved shooting incidents.

Fifty-one of the investigative reports, they say, have been completed and delivered to the CAO.

Police recommended charges on two of them. One is the killing of officer Katlyn Alix by fellow officer Nathaniel Hendren, who was charged and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The other is the shooting of an unarmed man in the back in August of 2018.

One year later, Officer Matthew Eernisse was charged. His case has yet to go to trial.

But the police say they have gotten silence from the CAO on the dozens of cases that remain sitting in the CAO for review, writing:

“To this date our department has not received any notice or correspondence from the CAO advising our agency of any determination their office has made related to any of the other 49 incidents.”

“It’s important, the public has a right to know if police officers are using force when they should not be,” said Philip Stinson, professor of criminology at Bowling Green State University.

He says while each case is different, people should know the outcome of each officer-involved shooting, particularly, he says, the 15 of the 49 that were fatal.

“It’s paramount. It’s very important that those cases be resolved, that there be a resolution and determination by a prosecutor if they were justified in using deadly force,” Stinson said.

And while the prosecutor should be thorough, he says they should be speaking with the police in a reasonable timeframe.

“Three years, four years, five years, that’s too long, there is no reason I can think of where a decision would not be made in that time frame,” said Stinson.

In a YouTube channel interview posted this week, Gardner mentioned that she holds officers accountable.

Her office has charged some St. Louis police for crimes. One shooting case against two officers was dismissed by the judge, claiming a failure of the CAO to turn over evidence.

Gardner is now claiming the Missouri attorney general wants to take officer-involved cases away from her.

“So that’s what this is really about, this is about an individual getting into this office who is controlled by the governor, who will rubber stamp these investigations and justify most of officer-involved shootings case,” she said.

Gardner has repeatedly declined or ignored our requests for interviews.

We have repeatedly asked the Circuit Attorney’s Office about this. They have said in the past that the outcomes of their investigations are closed records. We will continue pressing for more answers.