Kajieme Powell Shooting in St. Louis – DETAILS

Kajieme Powell

Both the video and the audio are clear, steady, and in HD format. There’s no mistaking this one, folks. Total kudos to the videographer. Even though he’s using a cell phone, he does a fantastic job of keeping the video extremely steady for a cell phone.

I spent more than 90 minutes pulling every detail possible from 104 seconds of recording, using my talents as an audio/video enthusiast to slow things WAY down. I threw the video in HD on a large (24″) high-res (1920×1200) monitor with a 5.1 sound system several times, taking copious notes. My narrative is given below, in stage/movie script format, with video times on the left.

There’s a LOT going on, here, with at least 25 distinct comments made in the last 20 seconds alone, and with significant overlap in the last ten seconds. Try playing the video while reading along with the script, and you’ll see what I mean!

Note: I’ve taken significant care to mask the cursing.

Before you tackle the video and script, what lessons can we, as people who open carry firearms, learn from this event?

Script:

NV: Narrator/Videographer

00:00 – (Video begins. NV speaking, walking slowly along the sidewalk towards the store and Kajieme Powell): So like, my homeboy just came and got me, and he said, “dude has just totally sold out the store.” (NV laughs). And he like, “F*** this.” He like “dude sellin…” Damn, this s***’s craaaazy.

00:23 – (NV steps off sidewalk into a parking lot next to the store in question). This s***’s cra… he f*****… what’s up? He’s cra… he just stole two sodas, like “f*** them I’m going to drink ’em.”

00:31 – (NV steps from the adjacent parking lot to the store’s parking lot). Hell, nah.

00:37 – (NV begins stepping to the edge of the store’s parking lot). He says straight, “put ’em on the ground, bro,” like daring sombody would touch ’em. Hell this s*** crazy.

00:44 – (unknown speaker, possibly the driver of the white pickup truck). All right man, head on down,

00:46 – (different unknown speaker, possibly Powell). All right, get out the f*** (unintelligible). Get the f*** way, f*** away from me. ****, I’m going to list the ground… I’m on facebook, you know who I am… I’m tired of this s***.

00:54 – (NV chuckles nervously). You tired, heh-heh… This the store, when the store do…

00:58 – (bearded man in red ball cap, horizontally red and and white striped shirt with red collar, black and silver watch, jeans, and red Nike shoes). Whas up, Mike?

00:59 – (NV). This craaazy.

01:02 – (NV). Whas up? Whas up?

01:10 – (Man in faded purple Route 66 T-shirt with off-white pants, black ball cap with purple Nike emblem, brown shoes with black laces and soles, something crumpled in his right hand). Brother, this not how you do it, bro. Know what I’m sayin’?

01:13 – (large man in brown collared shirt with orange R logo, bald, small beard element, black pants). Ain’t that (unintelligible, but sounds like, “Dunham”) boy, though.

01:15 – (NV). No doubt. The police gonna pull up. You see… Ya’ll call the police?

01:20 – (bearded man in red ball cap). Ya, I doin, yeah.

01:21 – (man in faded purple shirt). We called ’em, yeah. We didn’t want (unintelligible).

01:24 – (NV). You banging (could be ganging) up?

01:24 – (red ap or purple shirt, simultaneously with NV’s 01:24 statement). Come on, bro…

01:25 – (Driving officer). Take your hand out of your pocket, man.

01:26 – (Riding officer). Get your hand out of your pocket!

01:27 – (NV). Has he got his gun out?

01:28 – (Powell). Shoot me!

01:28 – (Driving officer). Take your hand out…

01:28 – (Powell). Shoot me!

01:28 – (Riding officer). Drop it.

01:29 – (Riding officer). Drop it.

01:29 – (NV). Oh, s***…

01:29 – (Powell). Shoot me! Shoot me!

01:31 – (NV). Oh, s***…

01:32 – (Powell). Shoot me!

01:33 – (Powell). Shoot me now, motherf*****!

01:34 – (Driving officer). Drop the knife.

01:35 – (NV). Oh, s***…

01:36 – (Riding officer). Drop the knife.

01:37 – (NV). Oh, s***…

01:38 – (either red ball cap or purple shirt). Come on, bro! Drop it, bro!

01:40 – (first of seven gun shots fired from gun A)

01:41 – (last of seven gun shots fired from gun A)

01:42 – (first of two more gun shots fired, sounds different than gun A)

01:42 – (last of two more gun shots fired)

01:43 – (lady in the background). Oh, s***!

01:44 – (unknown). Damn!

Observations:

1. Any deciphering the details in the script, particularly “So like, my homeboy just came and got me, and he said, “dude has just totally sold out the store” (could be “stole out of the store”) and Powell’s later comment, “I’m on Facebook, you know who I am… I’m tired of this s***,” it appears the NV knew Powell. He certainly knew the man in the red ball cap, who addressed him as “Mike.”

2. According to The Guardian, “St Louis metropolitan police undertook to release the recordings of the Powell case quickly, hoping to make the circumstances clear and minimize its potential as a further catalyst for rioting and confrontation between crowds and police.”

Good for them!

3. Newsweek states, “Fewer than 20 seconds elapsed from the time police arrived on the scene to the time they shot Powell. The two officers fired 12 shots at Powell, according to police chief Sam Dotson.” I counted just nine shots fired, even when I slowed down the audio and analyzed it graphically. Gunshots appear as very sharp, high, and short spikes. I hope to put up the graphical gunshot analysis soon. Working with a new program…

As for Newsweek’s claim of 20 seconds, here’s my perspective:

01:25 – (Driving officer). Take your hand out of your pocket, man.

01:40 – (first of seven gun shots fired from gun A)

That’s fifteen seconds between the initial communication/contact with the suspect and the first shot fired. When you count from when the police cruiser turned the corner at 1:14, that comes to 21 seconds.

Final Analysis:

When I heard about the shooting, I thought, “Oh, no, here we go again…” and assumed this would be a slam-dunk case of police brutality, excessive force, or bad training. Even the first time I saw the video I thought the same thing. When I turned up the volume and ran through it a few times, however, I realized what the police were seeing and hearing were significantly different than what a casual observer might see in the video. That’s when I decided to put forth the effort to come up with a complete script, one that was as accurate as humanly possible.

Through that process, I saw and heard what the officers were seeing and hearing. They were responding to a 911 call of shoplifting. Arriving at the scene, everyone was behaving normally except for one visibly agitated individual with at least one hand in his pockets. They ordered him to remove his hand from his pocket and he comes up with a tightly-held knife, is taunting the cops to go ahead and shoot him. He backs off then comes back at them.

Knives can be deadly. Even with immediate and top-notch medical attention, there are knife wounds from which you simply cannot recover. “Assault” is an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact. It’s carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm. Thus, approaching another in a threatening manner while brandishing a weapon is assault with a deadly weapon. Thus, the officers were fully justified in their use of deadly force to protect life and limb while facing imminent and reasonably credible threat.

Now, let’s address all the second-guessing about why they didn’t use tasers.

First, they’re not as reliable as firearms. Loose clothing can easily block a taser dart from reaching the skin, particularly if the loose clothing is heavy. The suspect’s hoodie was partially zipped, leaving a small V of viable area between belly and neck in which to obtain a clear shot.

Second, if I were facing an assault with a deadly weapon and had the option of reaching for a taser vs reaching for a firearm, I’d opt for the firearm. If the taser failed, I’d be seriously injured, if not dead. The firearm is far less likely to fail.

Thus, even if they were carrying tasers, I think the officers made the right choice to use firearms in that particular situation.

Getting back to their use of multiple rounds, my military combat training is different than their law enforcement training. In a combat situation, you might be facing a much larger number of attackers than most law enforcement officers face while performing their duties. The conservation of ammunition is a very real concern. Thus, in combat, if a target is somewhat distant, you shoot from cover, and use only one round. Hit your target and repeat as necessary to neutralize the threat. If an attacker is coming at you, we were taught, “two to the heart, one to the head, repeat as necessary until they’re dead.” Even so, that’s just three rounds and reassess. I hear some some police are taught to keep firing until they’re no longer moving, while others are taught to empty their magazines. I cannot attest as to the truthfulness of either, but the video showed at least nine distinct shots fired, and the police chief said it was twelve.

Regardless, the suspect started falling after the third round, hit the ground with the fourth round fired, and three more were fired as he rolled towards the officer. After a brief, half-second pause, two more rounds were fired. In all, at least nine shots were fired in two seconds. That’s nowhere near enough time for an accurate assessment on the part of the officers. The suspect caused these events to unfold when he assaulted them with a deadly weapon, and it really doesn’t matter whether they fired three times or twelve. He forfeited all right to life when he initiated the assault.

“Why didn’t they just shoot him in the leg?” That’s just absurd. First, the area below the waist is more than 50% open space, so even attempting to do so creates a serious possibility of a ricochet that would either injure or kill a bystander. Second, even if the shot found it’s mark, shots in people’s limbs rarely stop an immediate attack. It’s highly likely that even with two rounds in each upper thigh, the suspect would have continued to press his attack, injuring or killing at least one of the officers. Thus, the leg shot is dangerous for the officers, dangerous for bystanders, and stupid all around.

No matter how many times I run through the video, I can’t spot anything which suggests it was anything other than an appropriate response and a good shoot. Textbook.

Author: patriot

It was a distinct honor, as well as my pleasure, to serve my country for more than twenty years. I love my country, but sometimes I'm not too happy with its leaders. I'm working to change that, and I could use your help. Please join me! Thanks. : ) - Patriot

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