Ten days after the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO – there has been another death in a town only four miles away. On August 19, a young black man – twenty three or twenty five years old – was shot multiple times by police officers. His story is a little different from Mike Brown’s though. Though witnesses and the police accounts differ in some ways, the general chain of events are as such. Kajieme Powell lived in a community where everyone knew that he suffered some form of mental illness. He walked into a store Tuesday and walked out with two drinks he had not paid for. The store owners who knew him let him leave. But then he came back in and took some pastries without paying for them. On being asked to pay for the pastries, he threw them away. The police was then involved. The rest of this story was caught on tape, so if you’d like to see how it all happened, consult the links below. He was pacing up and down in the street when the officers arrived. He walked leisurely towards them daring them to kill him. The police, on seeing a knife in one of his hands, shot and killed him. He had not charged at them.
Some witnesses described the incident as “suicide by cop” — a situation in which someone with a death wish engages in activity that may prompt a law enforcement officer to shoot at them — but Dotson said he did not agree.
The St Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has released a statement explaining the officers’ actions. For him, they were put in a tough position and reacted the best way they knew how. There have been many thoughtful reactions to this tragedy, but I agree with the many people who have said: given the young man’s mental illness and his slow walking pace, the police had enough time and reason to choose a less violent course of action. They were too quick to use lethal force. May Kajieme Powell rest in peace, and may we no longer have to fight for the right to black life.
To find more information about this event, or see a video of the shooting, please consult these sources:
Post submitted by Kanyin