St. Louis shooting: Armed or not, protesters question death of black teen

Police say 18-year-old Mansur Ball-Be pulled a gun on police before officers fatally shot him on Wednesday. Protesters questioned whether law enforcement could have done more to deescalate the situation.

Lawrence Bryant/Reuters
A man holds a sign during a demonstration after a shooting incident in St. Louis, Mo., on Wednesday. St. Louis police fatally shot a black teenager on Wednesday who they say pointed a gun at them, and later faced angry crowds, reigniting racial tensions first sparked by the killing of an unarmed black teen in another Missouri town a year ago.

A few weeks after the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, officers arrested at least nine people and used tear gas to disperse crowds in St. Louis that had gathered on Wednesday to protest the death of another black 18-year-old who was fatally shot by police.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said at a press conference late Wednesday night that tear gas was used to clear a crowd which was blocking an intersection and throwing glass bottles and bricks at law enforcement. Police arrested protesters blocking the roadway and charged them with impeding the flow of traffic and resisting arrest.

In the area there were reports of burglaries and at least one car was burned, he said.

The protest were part of a group of demonstrations that erupted in the city after the killing of Mansur Ball-Bey by police Wednesday.

Mr. Ball-Bey, who was black, was shot by police after he pulled a handgun as he was fleeing two officers who were serving a search warrant for a home in a crime-ridden neighborhood of the city’s north side, authorities said. Police are still searching for a second suspect, who fled with Ball-Bey. The second suspect is believed to be in his mid- to late teens.

Dotson, the city’s police chief, said four guns, including the handgun wielded by the dead suspect, and drugs were recovered around the home where illegal guns were uncovered during a police search last year. A man and woman inside the home were arrested, Dotson said.

Both officers, who are white, were unharmed, according to a police report.

Roughly 150 people gathered Wednesday afternoon at the scene of the shooting. Some chanted "Black Lives Matter," a slogan which gained popularity after Mr. Brown's death.

"Another youth down by the hands of police," Dex Dockett, who lives nearby, told the Associated Press. "What could have been done different to de-escalate rather than escalate? [Police] come in with an us-against-them mentality. You've got to have the right kind of cops to engage in these types of neighborhoods."

Another neighborhood resident, Fred Price, told AP he was skeptical about the official police account of what happened.

"They provoked the situation," Mr. Price said. "Situations like this make us want to keep the police out of the neighborhood. They're shooting first, then asking questions."

The protests in St. Louis come a little more than a year after the death of Brown in Ferguson, Mo., at the hands of a white police officer, which sparked a national discussion about police brutality and race as well as protests across the country. Brown was unarmed at the time of his death. The officer who shot and killed Brown was not indicted leading to outrage and widespread protests.

A US Department of Justice report on Ferguson found wide ranging discriminatory behavior among the city’s law enforcement agencies to minority communities.

Some of those who protested Ball-Bey's killing had already marched downtown earlier in the day to protest the fatal police shooting of Kajieme Powell. Police said Mr. Powell was shot after he approached officers with a knife. The case is still under review to see whether lethal force was justified.

This report uses material from the Associated Press.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.