ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The shooting of Terry Tillman happens in a matter of seconds. A Richmond Heights police officer calls out “where’s he at?” and runs up the exterior stairs of the parking garage of Simmons Bank across from the Galleria Mall.
Police said the 23-year-old South City man who was killed after running away from a Richmond Heights officer near the Galleria Mall, had his gun raised when the officer shot him on Saturday afternoon.
In seconds, Tillman rounds the corner and the officer fires multiple rounds. Tillman immediately slumps over on the stairs and the officer can be heard through the camera on his patrol car saying, “drop the gun mother f*****.”
Tillman, 23, never fired his weapon but he was told to drop the weapon numerous times in the events leading up to the shooting. After months of requesting surveillance video and dash camera video, the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office released hundreds of clips on Wednesday.
Many of the clips are mundane moments from August 31, 2019 inside the Galleria mall. But they also show the moments that lead to the deadly shooting. Tillman was seen walking through the mall with a high-capacity extended magazine visible in his waistband.
Two officers approached him inside the mall and he began to run away with the gun in his hands. Officers told him to stop and drop the gun multiple times. The chase ended in the bank parking lot across the street.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell told reporters Tuesday charges would not be filed in the case, which his office had been investigating since September.
In December 2020, St. louis Prosecutor Wesley Bell explained why he would not be filing charges against the officer.
“The prosecutor had to determine whether it could be proven that the police officer acted unreasonably in believing that he needed to resort to lethal self-defense to protect his life. In a case where Mr. Tillman ran full-speed toward the officer holding a gun, after having refused police orders to stop and put down the gun, and where the officer had to make a split-second decision about whether and how to protect his life, the prosecutor was unable to meet that high burden of proof,” Bell’s statement read in December.
News 4 has pushed for more transparency when it comes to the release of body camera and dash camera video, especially as some departments release video almost immediately after a shooting. In this case, the family had asked Bell's office to not release the video.
Lt. Tom Wilkison with St. Charles City Police Department said in general they can't release video or evidence of an active investigation, but that some exceptions are made in some cases. “It’s a difficult process, there is no blanket policy on that. It would really be case by case, because we do want to be transparent as possible, but we also need to maintain integrity of investigation,” said Wilkison.
St. Charles City Police have had body cameras for six years. St. Charles County Police say they are currently doing a feasibility study in the hopes of equipping their officers with body cameras by the fall.
Richmond Heights Police began wearing body cameras in the summer following the shooting of Terry Tilman. St. Louis County Police began wearing body cameras last year and in St. Louis City, the process has been years in the making but at this point, they have distribute 479 body cameras to officers.
We reached out to Mayor-Elect Tishaura Jones to find out if she will advocate for increased transparency when it comes to the release of that body camera footage.
“One of Mayor-elect Jones’ top priorities as she enters office is to establish transparency and accessibility to all public records as they become available and to build trust between law enforcement and the community. Missouri state law dictates that body camera footage cannot be released until an investigation has been completed. As such, the Mayor-elect and her Public Safety team will be working to ensure that the department has what it needs to complete investigations swiftly and thoroughly, so that this footage will be available to the public in a timely manner,” said a spokesperson.