*The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released cell phone footage Wednesday of the police shooting of Kajieme Powell, the 25-year-old black man killed on Tuesday in St. Louis.
According to St. Louis Public Radio, the police released the video Wednesday evening as part of an effort to be more transparent when it comes to violent incidents involving law enforcement. In addition to the cell phone footage, the department also released security camera footage of the alleged robbery, as well as the two 911 calls made to police.
Police were first called to the scene – less than four miles away from the spot Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, was killed – when a local store owner reported the 25-year-old Powell stole drinks and donuts from his shop, according to a recording of the 911 call. Another woman called to report Powell was acting erratically and had a knife in his pocket.
Two officers in a police SUV responded to the calls, the cell phone video shows. When the officers got out of their vehicle, Powell walked in their direction, yelling and telling them to shoot him already.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said Tuesday that both of the officers opened fire on Powell when he came within a three or four feet of them holding a knife “in an overhand grip.”
But the newly released cell phone footage undermines the statement, showing Powell approaching the cops, but not coming as close as was reported, with his hands at his side. The officers began shooting within 15 seconds of their arrival, hitting Powell with a barrage of bullets.
Watch below. Warning: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Dotson defended the officers in a television appearance later Wednesday, acknowledging the discrepancies between his Tuesday account and what the video revealed. Though Powell’s hands were down by his sides, Dotson told CNN, he was moving toward the officer with a knife.
“The officers did what I think you or I would do, they protected their life in that situation,” Dotson said.
CNN’s Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo pushed Dotson on the officers’ decision to use lethal force, rather than opting for an alternate form of defense like a Taser.
“Certainly a Taser is an option that’s available to the officers, but Tasers aren’t 100 percent,” Dotson said. “So you’ve got an individual with a knife who’s moving towards you, not listening to any verbal commands, continues, says, ‘shoot me now, kill me now.’ Tasers aren’t 100 percent. if that Taser misses, that [individual] continues on and hurts an officer.”
“In a lethal situation, they used lethal force,” he added.
Listen to the 911 calls at St. Louis Public Radio, and watch the video below. Note that both contain graphic images and language.
Warning: The below video includes graphic content.