St. Louis, MO – St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner backed a city alderwoman’s declaration that St. Louis police are to blame for a deadly encounter with an armed drug dealer on Thursday.
The gunman, 28-year-old Cortez Shepherd, was fatally shot by police as he attempted to pull a gun out of his pocket during a fight with the officers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Ellyia Green claimed that the interaction between the four-time felon and police “never should have happened,” in the first place, because Gardner has vowed not to prosecute marijuana possession offenses under 100 grams, according to her Twitter post later that day.
“And she’s right,” Green quipped. “Our police also need to be instructed to abide by these rules.”
The alderwoman further declared that the officers’ efforts to keep such offenders off the streets “is a waste of police resources.”
Gardner retweeted Green’s message approximately an hour later and expressed her approval for the alderwoman’s accusations against the officers.
“Exactly,” the circuit attorney tweeted.
The St. Louis Police Officer’s Association (POA) released a scathing statement late Thursday night, blasting Gardner for helping to perpetuate anti-police rhetoric.
“In what has become an all too familiar refrain, the anti-police faction began spinning false narratives that a helpless weed possessor was murdered for no reason,” the POA said.
What actually took place was much different, the group noted.
The altercation occurred in the 3900-block of Garfield Avenue at approximately 12:50 a.m., St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The area, known as “Hayden’s rectangle,” is fraught with “heavy” drug activity, and has been the target of increased crime-reduction efforts, Chief Hayden explained.
Officers patrolling the area spotted a car parked with a group of people standing around it, and went over to investigate the suspected drug activity.
A seven-year-old child was in the backseat of the suspect’s vehicle at the time.
During the course of their interaction with Shepherd, police seized crack/cocaine, bars of Xanax, and marijuana, according to the POA.
The St. Louis Police Department also posted photos of the illegal contraband found at the scene.
“When police attempted to effectuate an arrest, the suspect initiated a struggle,” the POA explained. “Police’s attempt to use a Taser to subdue the suspect was unsuccessful.”
Police said that the convicted felon then attempted to pull out a revolver he had hidden in his pocket.
“Officers were required to use deadly force to neutralize the immediate threat to their lives,” the POA said.
Shepherd was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The seven-year-old child was not physically harmed during the incident, and managed to run to her mother, who was nearby, Chief Hayden said.
The officers sustained minor injuries during the brawl, according to the POA.
Police recovered the suspect’s fully-loaded revolver at the scene.
According to the POA, Shepherd had four prior felony conviction and had recently been released from a nine-year prison stint.
“Shockingly, however, the elected prosecutor Kim Gardner tweeted an ominous threat to police,” the POA noted. “She agreed with notorious cop hater Alderwoman Megan Green that the ‘interaction’ with the armed drug dealer dealing drugs in a car with a 7 year old girl ‘never should have happened.’”
“What is stunning is that the assistant circuit attorney who prosecuted the cases against this suspect from 2009 to 2011 was none other than Assistant Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner,” the group pointed out, adding that she is “intimately familiar with the suspect’s career in crime.”
The POA urged Gardner to recuse herself and her entire office from having any involvement in the investigation into the incident.
“Pre-judging an officer involved shooting and twitter threatening these brave officers is horribly unethical,” the POA declared. “This blatant dereliction of duty and unethical threat by this ‘prosecutor’ is nothing short of alarming.”
The group also called out Chief Hayden, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, and St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards for standing silent “while Gardner abdicates her duty, promotes a false narrative regarding this incident and publicly threatens officers.”
“Their silence is deafening,” the FOP said.
Krewson raved about how much she supports police during a luncheon on Tuesday.
“By Thursday, she was standing idly by while her police officers were lied about and threatened for doing their job,” the POA railed.
The group accused city leaders of promoting “the systematic demoralizing” of the St. Louis police force.
“We will not stand idly by and let them continue to dismantle the safety and security of our City and its people,” the POA concluded.