ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A grand jury has indicted a St. Louis City Sheriff’s Deputy for second-degree murder in the shooting death of a man in Spanish Lake man last year.
On Wednesday, a St. Louis County Grand Jury indicted James Buchanan, 53, for second-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Last year, St. Louis County police told News 4 Buchanan was off-duty, but in his full deputy uniform when he saw a black truck hit a 67-year-old man who was walking with his 10-year-old grandson in the 11000 block of Bellefontaine Road.
Police said the 67-year-old man had been carjacked and that Buchanan had chased after the suspect and shot him. That man, William Burgess, died of his injuries.
This indictment, however, sheds new light on the situation.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said the case was being prosecuted by the independent Conviction and Incident Review Unit that Bell formed to prosecute police use-of-force cases and to review past convictions.
But whether this case should be categorized as an officer-involved shooting remains in question. St. Louis Sheriff’s deputies have not traditionally been certified through the Peace Officer Standards and Training program which regulates law enforcement officers in the State of Missouri. They generally act as bailiffs and transport detainees to and from the St. Louis courthouses.
A man was shot and killed following a deputy-involved shooting in Spanish Lake Monday morning
Sheriff Vernon Betts has been seeking the means and the funding to allow deputies to be POST certified. At the time, Betts defended Buchanan’s actions, saying the deputy was threatened and made a split second decision to fire his gun.
"I tell my deputies 'you are a deputy seven days a week, 365 days a year and if you see something happening it makes no difference whether you're in the city or out of the city or wherever,'" Betts said, at the time.
Buchanan has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 20 years.
The grand jury considered a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, but ultimately chose to indict on the murder charge, believing that Buchanan “knowingly or with the purpose of causing serious physical injury to William Burgess caused the death of the victim.”
Buchanan could not be reached for comment. As of this morning, he was still employed with the Sheriff's Office.
This is a developing story.