A 38-year old black officer, whose own name and his assailants have not been released, was accidentally shot by his 36-year old white colleague. While off duty, the black officer heard a disturbance and grabbed his service gun in an attempt to mitigate the situation. The disturbance the officer noticed was the aftermath of car theft that had occurred earlier in the Maryland Heights community, that had turned into a police chase for the suspects involved.
Once the officer arrived on scene he was forced to the ground by some of his other colleagues, who soon recognized him, however, and called for him to join them in apprehending the criminals.
As the unnamed man proceeded to aid his fellow officers, he was shot in the arm by another approaching officer who did not recognize him, but instead mistook him for one of the black car thieves. Since the incident, the shooter has stated that he feared for his well-being when he saw his colleague.
However, the victim’s attorney, Rufus Tate Jr., explained that he sees the situation as a manifestation of the common stereotyping of black men in America in a statement he made to St.Louis Fox affiliate KTVI. Tate said “In the police report, you have so far, there is no description of the threat he received. So we have a real problem with that. But this has been a national discussion for the past two years. There is this perception that a black man is automatically feared.”
All seven officers involved in the accident have been put on administrative leave.
The official St. Louis Police Departement Twitter posted a summary of the events.
Updated information relative to last night's officer involved shooting/injured officer in the 5900 block of Astra. pic.twitter.com/TlJP7ghs9p
— St. Louis, MO Police (@SLMPD) June 22, 2017
Similarly, in 2009 a black officer, Omar J. Edwards, was killed by a fellow officer while out of his uniform and carrying his service weapons. Edwards was trying to detain someone that had broken into his car before he was shot three times by white officer Andrew Dunton who was acquitted of Edwards’ murder.
The St.Louis Police Department has offered no clear statement on the possibility of a racially charged motive for the shooting, although there is a possibility as a result of the opposing races of the two officers involved.